11 charts that show how American houses have changed since the 1970s

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concreteforms via flickr

Houses have been getting bigger and fancier for the last several decades, and we have the charts to prove it.

Every year, the Census Bureau releases data onthe characteristics of newly constructed homes, and they recently released info on houses built in 2015.

We decided to take a look at how different aspects of newly completed single-family houses have changed over the last several decades.


The number of bedrooms in single-family houses has tended to increase. In 2015, about 47% of newly built houses had four or more bedrooms.

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Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from US Census Bureau

The number of bathrooms has also tended to go up. About 38% of houses completed in 2015 had at least three bathrooms.

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Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from US Census Bureau

Houses have been getting taller. About 55% of houses completed in 2015 have at least two stories, compared to just 23% in 1973.

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Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from US Census Bureau

The floor area of houses has also increased over the years. The median house built in 2015 had an area of about 2,467 square feet, about 62% larger than the median in 1973 of 1,525 square feet.

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Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from US Census Bureau

As houses have gotten bigger, so have garages. The overwhelming majority of houses now have a garage big enough for at least two cars, while back in the ’70s there was more of a mix.

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Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from US Census Bureau

Air conditioning has become much more common. Just under half of new houses in 1973 had air conditioning, while by 2015 about 93% did.

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Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from US Census Bureau

Most houses built since the ’70s have forced-air heating systems, but since the turn of the century or so, heat pumps have become more popular.

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Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from US Census Bureau

Nearly all homes are heated with either gas or electricity, and the balance between those two has shifted over the years.

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Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from US Census Bureau

Fireplaces had a big moment in the 1980s: In 1989, about two-thirds of newly built houses had at least one fireplace. By 2015, that had fallen to just under half of new homes.

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Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from US Census Bureau

While brick and stucco have maintained their modest popularity as external wall materials, wood has fallen out of favor, replaced by other materials, mostly vinyl siding and fiber cement.

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Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from US Census Bureau

Basements and crawl spaces have become less common since the ’70s, while slab foundations have become more popular.

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Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from US Census Bureau