The Size of a Home the Year You Were Born

May 25, 2016 by Evan Comen

Home
Source: Thinkstock
In 1940, 20.2% of U.S. homes were overcrowded, according to the Census Bureau. By 2000, that figure had fallen to just 5.7%. For many reasons, Americans today have more room than ever before.

The 20th century was a period of economic growth and prosperity for the American consumer. With GDP per capita increasing from $10,164 in 1920 to $56,677 in 2015, Americans today are as wealthy as they’ve ever been. Home sizes have also increased, keeping pace with consumer demand. The average single-family home built today is 2,657 square feet, more than twice the average single-family home built in 1920.

To determine how homes have changed over the past century, 24/7 Wall St. estimated the size of a newly constructed single-family house between 1920 and 2014. The mostly uninterrupted growth in home sizes over the century was largely the result of rising incomes, changing family structure, and the proliferation of the suburbs.

Click here to see the size of a home the year you were born.

After World War II, America enjoyed a period of economic prosperity that was largely responsible for the growth of the suburbs. Between 1945 and 1946, the number of new housing contracts more than tripled, increasing from 326,000 to 1.02 million in just one year. The total value of construction grew accordingly, from $6.7 billion to $25.4 billion, adjusting for inflation.

The Levittown house was a popular model for a suburban home. At just 750 square feet, the homes were relatively inexpensive and ready for mass production. In 1950, the year Time magazine estimated that Levitt and Sons built one out of every eight houses in the United States, the average size of a newly built single-family home was 983 square feet — slightly smaller than a decade prior, when it was 1,177 square feet.

In 1920, just 9.2% of the population lived in the suburbs. By 1950, that figure had more than doubled to 23.3%, and by 2000 half of all Americans lived in the suburbs. One of the largest 10-year growth periods in home size occurred between 1953 to 1963. During that decade alone, the average size of a new single-family home grew by roughly 60%.

Americans actually have more room than their rising home sizes suggests because at the same time, the average number of occupants in a house declined, providing home dwellers with more space per person. The average household size has declined steadily from 4.34 people in 1920 to 2.54 people today, a historical low. So while the size of an average home has roughly doubled since 1920, the average square footage per person has more than quadrupled.

One major cause of the of the falling number of people in a household is the changing composition of the American family. Marriage rates are low, and many more children are growing up in one-parent households than ever before. The share of one-parent families with children under the age of 18 has grown from 7.4% of all families with children in 1950 to 31.3% in 2015. Similarly, more adults are living alone than ever before. The single-person occupancy rate increased from 7.7% in 1940 to 26.7% in 2010.

To determine the average size of a newly constructed single-family home between 1971 and 2014, 24/7 Wall St. used survey data from the Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey. For years between 1963 and 1970, we used data from the Census Bureau’s U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 1969 “Characteristics of New One-Family Homes” construction report. For the years 1940, 1950, and 1954 to 1956, we used the Bureau of Labor Statistics New Housing and its Materials 1940-56 report. For all other years, we estimated the average size of a newly constructed home using construction data on residential housing starts and total residential floor space constructed in a given year from the Census Bureau’s annual “Statistical Abstracts of the United States” and its “Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970” report. We took the quotient of total residential floor space and total residential housing starts and made adjustments to account for the inclusion of multi-family housing units and exclusion of various states in the national tally of total floor space constructed. We also adjusted housing starts to better approximate housing completions. Average household size also came from the Census Bureau. GDP per capita figures for years 1929 to 2014 are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. GDP per capita figures for years 1920 to 1928, which were not available from the BEA, came from estimates by the Maddison Project.

This is the average size of a home from 1920 to 2014.

1920 house
Source: UNM Digital Libraries / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,048 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 242 sq ft
> New homes started: 247,000
> GDP per capita: $10,164

1921 house
Source: Shulman, Julius / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,011 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 233 sq ft
> New homes started: 449,000
> GDP per capita: $9,743

1922 house
Source: Albert R. Stone / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 818 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 188 sq ft
> New homes started: 716,000
> GDP per capita: $10,141

1923 auto wreck
Source: National Photo Company / Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 742 sq. ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 171 sq. ft
> New homes started: 871,000
> GDP per capita: $11,284

1924 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 777 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 179 sq ft
> New homes started: 893,000
> GDP per capita: $11,409

1925 inside house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 967 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 223 sq ft
> New homes started: 937,000
> GDP per capita: $11,500

1926 orange fields and house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 994 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 229 sq ft
> New homes started: 849,000
> GDP per capita: $12,086

1927 house
Source: Snyder, Frank R. / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 989 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 228 sq ft
> New homes started: 810,000
> GDP per capita: $12,038

1928 town

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,222 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 282 sq ft
> New homes started: 753,000
> GDP per capita: $12,025

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1929 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,233 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 284 sq ft
> New homes started: 509,000
> GDP per capita: $9,668

1930 house
Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,129 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 275 sq ft
> New homes started: 330,000
> GDP per capita: $8,751

1931 Manhattan
Source: U.S. National Archives / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,213 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 295 sq ft
> New homes started: 254,000
> GDP per capita: $8,128

1932 Shacks burning in the capital
Source: National Archives and Records Administration / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 889 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 216 sq ft
> New homes started: 134,000
> GDP per capita: $7,035

1933 house
Source: Historic American Buildings Survey / Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,267 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 308 sq ft
> New homes started: 93,000
> GDP per capita: $6,906

1934 house
Source: S. Lucas / Historic American Buildings Survey / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 826 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 201 sq ft
> New homes started: 126,000
> GDP per capita: $7,603

1935 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 992 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 241 sq ft
> New homes started: 221,000
> GDP per capita: $8,223

1936 house
Source: Theodore LaVack / The Historic American Buildings Survey / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,129 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 275 sq ft
> New homes started: 319,000
> GDP per capita: $9,226

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1937 house
Source: Nathaniel R. Ewan / National American Buildings Survey / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,135 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 276 sq ft
> New homes started: 336,000
> GDP per capita: $9,639

1938 house
Source: Piaget-van Ravenswaay Collection / Historic American Buildings Survey / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 959 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 233 sq ft
> New homes started: 406,000
> GDP per capita: $9,248

1939 house
Source: Frances Benjamin Johnston / Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,046 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 254 sq ft
> New homes started: 515,000
> GDP per capita: $9,904

1940 house interior
Source: Stanley M. Nixon / Historic American Buildings Survey / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,177 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 321 sq ft
> New homes started: 603,000
> GDP per capita: $10,687

1941 FDR and dog
Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,153 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 314 sq ft
> New homes started: 706,000
> GDP per capita: $12,458

1942 house
Source: Dorothea Lange / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,044 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 557 sq ft
> New homes started: 356,000
> GDP per capita: $14,652

1943 house
Source: John Vachon / Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,692 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 461 sq ft
> New homes started: 191,000
> GDP per capita: $16,914

Ghost town of Grafton, Utah: the church and a house
Source: Thinkstock

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 837 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 228 sq ft
> New homes started: 142,000
> GDP per capita: $18,046

1945 house
Source: GarlandFamily / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 797 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 217 sq ft
> New homes started: 326,000
> GDP per capita: $17,677

1946 White House
Source: Abbie Rowe / National Archives and Records Administration / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 817 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 223 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.02 million
> GDP per capita: $15,467

1947 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 903 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 254 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.27 million
> GDP per capita: $15,008

1948 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 800 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 229 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.36 million
> GDP per capita: $15,364

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1949 interior
Source: Agriculture And Stock Department, Publicity Branch / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 767 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 224 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.47 million
> GDP per capita: $15,018

1950 house
Source: doe-oakridge / Flickr / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 983 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 292 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.95 million
> GDP per capita: $16,057

1951 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 874 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 262 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.49 million
> GDP per capita: $17,059

1952 house
Source: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 910 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 274 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.50 million
> GDP per capita: $17,452

1953 house
Source: Seattle Municipal Archives / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 917 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 279 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.44 million
> GDP per capita: $17,972

1954 bubble house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,140 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 341 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.55 million
> GDP per capita: $17,560

1955 model house
Source: Boston Public Library / Flickr

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,170 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 351 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.65 million
> GDP per capita: $18,483

1956 modern house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,230 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 370 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.35 million
> GDP per capita: $18,547

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1957 farmhouse

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,305 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 392 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.22 million
> GDP per capita: $18,599

1958 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,289 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 386 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.38 million
> GDP per capita: $18,158

1959 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,300 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 389 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.55 million
> GDP per capita: $19,084

1960 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,289 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 387 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.30 million
> GDP per capita: $19,180

1961 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,284 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 382 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.37 million
> GDP per capita: $19,351

1962 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,309 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 396 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.49 million
> GDP per capita: $20,220

1963 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,450 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 435 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.64 million
> GDP per capita: $20,799

1964 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,470 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 441 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.56 million
> GDP per capita: $21,698

1965 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,525 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 461 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.51 million
> GDP per capita: $22,820

PICT0939.JPG

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,570 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 476 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.20 million
> GDP per capita: $24,046

1967 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,610 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 491 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.32 million
> GDP per capita: $24,438

1968 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,665 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 515 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.55 million
> GDP per capita: $25,383

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1969 house copy
> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home:
1,640 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 514 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.50 million
> GDP per capita: $25,923

1970 baseball game

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,500 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 478 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.47 million
> GDP per capita: $25,677

1971 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,520 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 489 sq ft
> New homes started: 2.05 million
> GDP per capita: $26,192

The House 1971

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,555 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 508 sq ft
> New homes started: 2.36 million
> GDP per capita: $27,277

1973 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,660 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 551 sq ft
> New homes started: 2.05 million
> GDP per capita: $28,542

1974 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,695 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 571 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.34 million
> GDP per capita: $28,134

1975 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,645 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 560 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.16 million
> GDP per capita: $27,807

1976 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,700 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 588 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.54 million
> GDP per capita: $29,023

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1977 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,720 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 601 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.99 million
> GDP per capita: $30,057

1978 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,755 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 625 sq ft
> New homes started: 2.02 million
> GDP per capita: $31,395

1979 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,760 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 633 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.75 million
> GDP per capita: $32,035

1980 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,740 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 630 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.29 million
> GDP per capita: $31,589

1981 barn owls

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,720 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 630 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.08 million
> GDP per capita: $32,088

1982 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,710 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 629 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.06 million
> GDP per capita: $31,174

1983 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,725 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 632 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.70 million
> GDP per capita: $32,324

1984 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,780 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 657 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.75 million
> GDP per capita: $34,368

1985 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,785 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 664 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.74 million
> GDP per capita: $35,508

1986 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,825 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 684 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.81 million
> GDP per capita: $36,423

DN-SC-88-02694

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,905 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 716 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.62 million
> GDP per capita: $37,348

1988 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,995 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 756 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.49 million
> GDP per capita: $38,566

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1989 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,035 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 777 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.38 million
> GDP per capita: $39,610

1990 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,080 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 791 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.19 million
> GDP per capita: $39,919

1991 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,075 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 789 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.01 million
> GDP per capita: $39,363

1992 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,095 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 800 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.20 million
> GDP per capita: $40,225

1993 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,095 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 788 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.29 million
> GDP per capita: $40,796

1994 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,100 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 787 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.46 million
> GDP per capita: $41,931

1995 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,095 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 791 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.35 million
> GDP per capita: $42,566

1996 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,120 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 800 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.48 million
> GDP per capita: $43,668

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1997

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,150 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 814 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.47 million
> GDP per capita: $45,086

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,190 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 836 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.62 million
> GDP per capita: $46,547

1999 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,223 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 852 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.64 million
> GDP per capita: $48,174

2000 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,266 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 865 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.57 million
> GDP per capita: $49,600

2001 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,324 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 901 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.60 million
> GDP per capita: $49,588

2002 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,320 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 899 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.70 million
> GDP per capita: $49,995

2003 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,330 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 907 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.85 million
> GDP per capita: $50,927

2004 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,349 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 914 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.96 million
> GDP per capita: $52,380

2005 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,434 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 947 sq ft
> New homes started: 2.07 million
> GDP per capita: $53,632

2006 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,469 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 961 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.80 million
> GDP per capita: $54,541

2007 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,521 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 985 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.35 million
> GDP per capita: $54,982

2008 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,519 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 984 sq ft
> New homes started: 905,500
> GDP per capita: $54,309

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2009 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,438 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 949 sq ft
> New homes started: 554,000
> GDP per capita: $52,338

2010 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,392 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 924 sq ft
> New homes started: 586,900
> GDP per capita: $53,218

2011 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,480 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 969 sq ft
> New homes started: 608,800
> GDP per capita: $53,662

Source: jbalint1 / Wikimedia Commons

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,505 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 982 sq ft
> New homes started: 780,600
> GDP per capita: $54,451

2013 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,598 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 1,023 sq ft
> New homes started: 924,900
> GDP per capita: $54,859

2014 house

> Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,657 sq ft
> Avg. floor area per person: 1,046 sq ft
> New homes started: 1.0 million
> GDP per capita: $55,762