US Housing Is Having a Bedroom Boom
Of the just over a million new single-family houses completed in the US last year, 4,900,000 had four or more bedrooms. That worked out to a 48% share, the highest
since the US Census Bureau started keeping track in 1973— and more than double the percentage in 1973. This might seem a little perverse in a country where almost two-thirds of households now consist of one or two people, and only 21% of four or more.
But there are explanations.
One is that apartments in the US have headed in the opposite direction, with 52% of multifamily units completed in 2022 consisting of one-bedrooms or studios, the highest
percentage since that data series started in 1978. Another is that a lot of those extra bedrooms in new single-family houses aren’t really intended for people to sleep in.
The rise of remote and hybrid work—recent survey results from WFH Research indicate that close to 30% of paid full workdays in the US are being worked from home this year, up from around 5% in 2019—is making home workspaces with doors you can close much more important.
Eighty-eight percent of builders in a National Association of Home Builders survey said demand for home office increased during the pandemic, and 72 % said a home office was a “likely” feature in a typical 2023 new home, on a par with granite countertops.
It’s not that new houses have been getting bigger. While the median floor area of new single-family houses rose slightly in 2022, to 2,299 square feet, it’s still below pre- pandemic levels, and quarterly statistics on housing starts indicate that it will fall in 2023. But the uses to which that space is put are changing.