Housing Mix is as
Important As Volume

Single-family homes typically use far more building materials than Multifamily dwellings.

July 1, 2016

Housing Mix is as Important As Volume

While we're all happy to see the rebound of the housing market underway, smart companies aren't just watching the volume of housing starts, but also the mix of home types built. In many ways, the mix can have a bigger impact on building materials purchased than does the total number of new homes.

Historical Mix of US New Housing

Historical Mix of US New Housing

From the housing boom high of about 2.2 million new homes built in 2005, to a low of 600,000 in 2010, to the current pace of 1.1 million new homes built in 2015, we are clearly on a path of improvement. But what these numbers don't tell us that Multifamily units represent a much higher share of total new housing starts than previously - about 15% before the boom but about 35% now.

Why does that matter? Single-family homes typically use far more building materials than Multifamily dwellings. In fact, compared to an average-size apartment, a luxury single-family home uses about twice as many cabinets, countertop materials, and faucets and more than six times the structural materials and exterior finishes.

Not only is volume of materials dependent upon the housing start mix, but type of materials also. Nowhere is this more of a stark a reminder than in kitchens. In single-family homes, the dominant style of cabinet is the raised panel, wood-finish door (though panel-in-frame doors are gaining popularity). In multifamily homes, cabinets with flat panel doors, most with no frame, are now dominant. Outside the kitchen, half the flooring in an average Starter home is carpeting while only one-third of an average Luxury home is carpeted, primarily in bedrooms.

Keeping up with industry trends and changes like these is important. Top building product manufacturers incorporate our annual data into their daily decisions. Make sure you are too!

The Annual Builder Practices Reports cover building products used in residential new construction, and can be paired with our Consumer Practices Reports to give you a complete view of the residential construction market.

Builder Practices Report categories include:

Appliances | Bathroom Accessories | Beams & Headers
Cabinets for Kitchen & Bath | Countertops | Deck & Porch Railings
Driveways | Ducts | Exterior Doors
Fencing & Landscape Walls | Finish Flooring | Fire Sprinklers
Home Standby Generators | House Wrap & Radiant Barriers
Insulation | Mechanical Ventilation | Patio Doors
Radiant Floor Heating | Roofing
Shutters & Exterior Ornamental Trim | Soffit & Fascia
Structural Systems - Floor, Roof & Wall | Underlayment | Windows

New reports are available for immediate delivery. Contact me for a sample report or to place your order. I look forward to talking with you.


Ed Hudson
Director, Marketing Research Services
Home Innovation Research Labs
301.430.6305 |