Builders Satisfy Demand for Open Floor Plans


According to a recent NAHB article, open floor plans are popular among home buyers, and the design of new single-family homes tends to be, if anything, even more open. For example, in a 2015 NAHB survey, 70 percent of recent and prospective homebuyers said they preferred a home with either a completely or partially open kitchen-family room arrangement with 32 percent preferring the arrangement completely open).

When a similar question was asked in the September 2016 survey for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, an even higher 84 percent of builders said that, in the typical single-family homes they build, the kitchen-family room arrangement is completely or partially open. Over half (54 percent) said it is completely open. Both surveys defined completely open as essentially combining two areas into the same room, and partially open as areas separated by a partial wall, counter, arch, or something else less than a full wall.

Of the remaining possibilities, 16 percent of buyers want the kitchen and family rooms in separate areas of the house, and 6 percent of builders say this is how their typical homes are designed. Eleven percent of buyers want the two areas side-by-side but separated by a wall, while only 2 percent of builders design their typical homes this way. And 4 percent of buyers prefer a home without a family room, while 9 percent of builders do not include a family room in their typical homes.

The same surveys show that 45 percent of home buyers favor a completely open kitchen and dining area arrangement, while an even higher 51 percent of builders design their typical single-family homes this way.

However, 41 percent of buyers want a home with a kitchen and dining area that are partially open to each other, while only 24 percent of builders design their typical homes this way. As a result, the 86 percent of buyers who want either a completely or partially open kitchen and dining area is actually higher than the 75 percent of builders who provide the completely or partially open design. This occurs in part because 12 percent of builders locate the kitchen and dining rooms in separate areas of the house, while only 3 percent of buyers say they want their homes this way

There are no hard data on the openness of floor plans in existing homes. However, in the survey for the first quarter 2016 Remodeling Market Index, professional remodelers reported that 40 percent of their projects involved making the floor plan more open by removing interior walls/pillars/arches, etc., indicating that the floor plans of existing homes are often not as open as their owners would like.

For more details and a discussion of the square footage and number of bathrooms in new vs. existing homes, consult the full article.

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2 replies

  1. Do you happen to have/are you able to provide the this same data for the past, say, 15 years? I’m currently trying to use this data for a project but can’t find the raw data anywhere!

  2. Open floor plans are popular but there are issues that should be accounted for in the design process. most of these issues revolve around the roof framing. often with these type homes we will see trusses that clear span the width of the house. this span can often be in the 40 to 50 foot range. Based on code limitations for allowable deflections for roof members, this truss would be allowed to deflect roughly 2/3 of an inch under dead load (the weight of the roof structure itself) alone for a 40 foot truss. The allowable live load deflection would be in the range of 2” +/- just for the snow loads. so what we often see is because of this cyclical deflection from the snow, drywall cracks can develop at re-entrant corners (locations where the trusses cannot deflect because they are aligned over foundations) and at interior walls which, inadvertently, become bearing walls on a floor that was not designed for this condition. Planning ahead to locate girder trusses in order to cut down the spans of the trusses or designing interior walls as load bearing can reduce the potential for distress.

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