The Size of a Home the Year You Were Born

April 13, 2018 by Mike Sauter

Source: travelview / iStock

While the U.S. housing market has largely recovered from the effects of the subprime mortgage crisis, homes are being built at barely half the rate they were in the early 2000s. The history of the U.S. housing market has been one marked by periods of rampant building and of lulls, even as the population has expanded relatively steadily.

U.S. housing starts in February 2018 clocked in at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.2 million. The 2017 rate is less than half the 2.5 million housing starts in 1974 — a time when there 100 million fewer people living in the country.

The American housing market has not only been through substantial fluctuations in the number of housing units built, but also by changes in the size of homes. Changing family size, rising incomes, and suburban expansion have all led to changes in the size of the typical single-family home.

To determine how the size of homes has changed over the past century, 24/7 Wall St. determined the size of a newly constructed single-family house between 1920 and 2016 by reviewing official U.S. Census figures and providing our own estimates for years the Census did not release numbers.

Click here to see the size of a home the year you were born.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Source: Jerrye

1920
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 (inflation adjusted): $10,164

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Source: JERRYE

1921
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 (inflation adjusted): $9,743

Source: Allan Ferguson / Wikimedia Commons

1922
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 (inflation adjusted): $10,141

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1923
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 (inflation adjusted): $11,284

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1924
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 (inflation adjusted): $11,409

Source: JERRYE

1925
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 (inflation adjusted): $11,500

Source: Governor Macquarie / Flickr

1926
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 (inflation adjusted): $12,086

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Source: Racoats / Wikimedia Commons

1927
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 (inflation adjusted): $12,038

Source: Mcmillin24 / Wikimedia Commons

1928
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 (inflation adjusted): $12,025

Source: Tony the Marine / Wikimedia Commons

1929
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 (inflation adjusted): $9,668

Source: W. N. Manning / Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

1930
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 (inflation adjusted): $7,847

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Source: Jack Boucher / Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

1931
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 (inflation adjusted): $7,288

Source: BIPS / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

1932
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 (inflation adjusted): $6,308

Source: The U.S. National Archives / Flickr

1933
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 (inflation adjusted): $6,192

Source: Sasha / Getty Images

1934
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 (inflation adjusted): $6,817

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1935
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 (inflation adjusted): $7,373

Source: Tony the Marine / Wikimedia Commons

1936
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 (inflation adjusted): $8,273

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Source: Bubba73 (Jud McCranie) / Wikimedia Commons

1937
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 (inflation adjusted): $8,643

Source: Piaget-van Ravenswaay Collection / Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

1938
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 (inflation adjusted): $8,292

Source: trialsanderrors / Flickr

1939
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 (inflation adjusted): $8,881

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1940
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 (inflation adjusted): $9,583

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1941
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 (inflation adjusted): $11,171

Source: Dorothea Lange / National Archives and Records Administration / Wikimedia Commons

1942
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 (inflation adjusted): $13,138

Source: Kansas Sebastian / Flickr

1943
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 (inflation adjusted): $15,166

Source: Frank Womble / Wikimedia Commons

1944
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 (inflation adjusted): $16,181

Source: Tony the Marine / Wikimedia Commons

1945
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 (inflation adjusted): $15,850

Source: David Brossard / Wikimedia Commons

1946
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 817 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 223 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,023,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $13,869

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Source: Jack Boucher / Historic American Buildings Survey / Wikimedia Commons

1947
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 903 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 254 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,268,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $13,457

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1948
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 800 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 229 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,362,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $13,776

Source: Phillip Pessar / Flickr

1949
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 767 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 224 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,466,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $13,466

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1950
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 983 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 292 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,952,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $14,398

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1951
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 874 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 262 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,491,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $15,296

Source: Rhyhey / Wikimedia Commons

1952
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 910 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 274 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,504,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $15,649

Source: atlantic-kid / Getty Images

1953
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 917 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 279 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,438,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $16,115

Source: Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD / Wikimedia Commons

1954
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,140 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 341 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,551,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $15,745

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

1955
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,170 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 351 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,646,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $16,573

Source: Keystone Features / Getty Images

1956
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,230 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 370 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,349,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $16,630

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Source: NNehring / Getty Images

1957
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,305 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 392 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,224,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $16,677

Source: Seattle Municipal Archives / Flickr

1958
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,289 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 386 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,382,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $16,282

Source: Staff / Getty Images

1959
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,300 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 389 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,554,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $17,112

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1960
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,289 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 387 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,296,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $17,198

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Source: BoBSerrone / Wikimedia Commons

1961
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,284 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 382 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,365,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $17,351

Source: Ron Frazier / Flickr

1962
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,309 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 396 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,492,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $18,131

Source: DaveAlan / Getty Images

1963
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,450 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 435 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,635,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $18,650

Source: Kansas Sebastian / Flickr

1964
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,470 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 441 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,561,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $19,456

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

1965
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,525 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 461 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,510,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $20,462

Source: Kansas Sebastian / Flickr

1966
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,570 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 476 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,196,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $21,561

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Source: Jerrye

1967
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,610 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 491 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,322,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $21,913

Source: Malcolm Manners / Flickr

1968
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,665 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 515 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,545,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $22,760

Source: Kansas Sebastian / Flickr

1969
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,640 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 514 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,500,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $23,244

Source: JayLazarin / Getty Images

1970
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,500 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 478 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,469,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $23,024

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Source: Barbara Ann Spengler / Flickr

1971
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,520 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 489 sq. ft.
New homes started: 2,052,200
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $23,485

Source: Roger W / Flickr

1972
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,555 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 508 sq. ft.
New homes started: 2,356,600
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $24,458

Source: onepony / iStock

1973
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,660 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 551 sq. ft.
New homes started: 2,045,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $25,593

Source: atlantic-kid / Getty Images

1974
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,695 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 571 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,338,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $25,227

Source: vicnt / iStock

1975
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,645 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 560 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,160,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $24,934

Source: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

1976
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,700 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 588 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,538,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $26,024

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Source: Joe Haupt / Flickr

1977
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,720 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 601 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,987,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $26,951

Source: TennesseePhotographer / iStock

1978
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,755 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 625 sq. ft.
New homes started: 2,020,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $28,151

Source: atlantic-kid / iStock

1979
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,760 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 633 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,745,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $28,725

Source: The Library of Congress / Flickr

1980
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,740 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 630 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,292,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $28,325

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Source: PhotosByPaulReitmeir / Getty Images

1981
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,720 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 630 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,084,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $28,772

Source: atlantic-kid / Getty Images

1982
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,710 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 629 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,062,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $27,953

Source: Orderinchaos / Wikimedia Commons

1983
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,725 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 632 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,703,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $28,984

Source: Steven Martin / Flickr

1984
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,780 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 657 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,750,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $30,817

Source: NNehring / Getty Images

1985
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,785 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 664 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,742,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $31,839

Source: Roger W / Flickr

1986
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,825 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 684 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,805,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $32,659

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Source: Roger W / Flickr

1987
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,905 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 716 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,621,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $33,489

Source: Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr

1988
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 1,995 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 756 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,488,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $34,581

Source: Britta Gustafson / Flickr

1989
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,035 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 777 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,376,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $35,517

Source: Will Hart / Flickr

1990
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,080 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 791 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,193,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $35,794

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Source: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

1991
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,075 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 789 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,014,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $35,295

Source: Bob Epstein / Wikimedia Commons

1992
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,095 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 800 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,200,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $36,068

Source: davelogan / iStock

1993
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,095 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 788 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,288,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $36,580

Source: Steven Martin / Flickr

1994
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,100 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 787 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,457,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $37,598

Source: davelogan / iStock

1995
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,095 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 791 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,354,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $38,167

Source: DarioEgidi / iStock

1996
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,120 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 800 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,477,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $39,156

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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: 1,474,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $40,427

Source: r4mz0rz / iStock

1998
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,190 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 836 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,617,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $41,737

Source: Bart Everson / Wikimedia Commons

1999
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,223 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 852 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,640,900
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $43,196

Source: Andreas F. Borchert / Wikimedia Commons

2000
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,266 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 865 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,568,700
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $44,475

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Source: Roger W / Flickr

2001
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,324 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 901 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,602,700
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $44,464

Source: Andreas F. Borchert / Wikimedia Commons

2002
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,320 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 899 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,704,900
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $44,829

Source: Summerworld / Wikimedia Commons

2003
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,330 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 907 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,847,700
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $45,664

Source: U.S. Navy photo by Bob Goodwin

2004
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,349 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 914 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,955,800
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $46,967

Source: irina88w / iStock

2005
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,434 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 947 sq. ft.
New homes started: 2,068,300
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $48,090

Source: BrendelSignature / Wikimedia Commons

2006
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,469 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 961 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,800,900
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $48,905

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Source: EugeneZelenko / Wikimedia Commons

2007
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,521 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 985 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,355,000
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $49,300

Source: Eugene Zelenko / Wikimedia Commons

2008
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 (inflation adjusted): $48,697

Source: David Eubanks / Flickr

2009
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 (inflation adjusted): $46,930

Source: JimmayQ / Flickr

2010
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 (inflation adjusted): $47,721

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Source: tab1962 / iStock

2011
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 (inflation adjusted): $48,128

Source: peterspiro / iStock

2012
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 (inflation adjusted): $48,842

Source: a40757 / iStock

2013
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 (inflation adjusted): $49,312

Source: IP Galanternik D.U. / iStock

2014
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: 1,003,300
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $50,206

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Source: hikesterson / iStock

2015
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,687 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 1,058 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,111,800
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $51,262

Source: Korisbo / iStock

2016
Avg. floor area of a new single-family home: 2,640 sq. ft.
Avg. floor area per person: 1,039 sq. ft.
New homes started: 1,173,800
GDP per capita (inflation adjusted): $51,646

Detailed Findings

A number of factors, including the end of World War II, the G.I. bill, and the advent of the affordable family automobile, led to the rapid expansion of the American suburbs. Between 1945 and 1946, the number of new housing starts 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.

The 20th century was a period of economic growth and prosperity for the American consumer, as was the 21st century in the most part. With inflation-adjusted GDP per capita increasing from $10,164 in 1920 to $51,646 in 2016, 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.

Just 9.2% of the population lived in the suburbs in 1920. 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 nearly 60%.

Americans actually have more room than their rising home sizes suggests because as home sizes grew, the average number of occupants in a household 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 more than doubled since 1920, the average square footage per person has more than quadrupled.

One major reason for 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.

Methodology

To determine the average size of a newly constructed single-family home between 1971 and 2016, 24/7 Wall St. used survey data from the Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey. For the years 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 2016 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.