Every year, the US Census Bureau publishes data on the characteristics of new single-family homes started in its Survey of Construction. In 2016, 3.7 percent of new single-family homes started had 1 bathroom or less, 60.9 percent had 2 bathrooms, 26.7 percent had 3 bathrooms, and 8.7 percent had four bathrooms or more (Figure 1). The term ‘bathroom’ in this post refers to full bathrooms.
From 2000 to 2015, the share of new single-family homes started with 1 bathroom or less was essentially flat. During the same period, the share with 2 bathrooms generally trended downward, while the share with 3 or more bathrooms steadily increased. The 2016 SOC data show a reversal in this trend: the share with at least 3 bathrooms slipped from 37 percent in 2015 to 35 percent in 2016 and the share with 2 bathrooms edged up slightly from 59 percent to 61 percent.
The 2016 data is in line with industry trends. After peaking in 2015 at an average of 2,689 square feet, the average size of new single-family homes started to decrease, falling to 2,622 square feet in 2016. After focusing on the higher end of the market in the post-recession period, builders may be shifting to the construction of more starter homes in response to a large share of first-time home-buyers entering the market. Predictably, more starter homes may translate into fewer bathrooms per home, as seen in the SOC data.
The number of bathrooms by Census Division varied in 2016 (Figure 2). For example, approximately 40 percent of new single-family homes started in the South Atlantic division had at least 3 full baths, while only 23 percent of homes in the New England division did.
There were some significant changes in the share of homes with at least 3 bathrooms from 2015 to 2016 by division: a seven percentage point drop to 23 percent in New England, a 6 percentage point drop to 28 percent in the East South Central division, a 5 percentage point increase to 35 percent in the West North Central division, and a 3 percentage point decline to 34 percent in the Middle Atlantic division. The other divisions had 2 percentage point changes at most.