Share of New Homes with Porches Up to 94% in East South Central


Of the single-family homes started in 2018, 64.9 percent came with porches, according to NAHB tabulation of data from the Survey of Construction (SOC, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau with partial funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development).

Historically, the SOC shows the share of single-family homes with porches increasing regularly to a high of 65.7 percent in 2011 before dropping to under 64 percent from 2012 through 2015.  Since then the share has been marginally higher and relatively stable, fluctuating only between 64.7 and 65.1 percent from 2016 through 2018.

Although not shown in that much geographic detail on the Census web site, the underlying SOC data can be tabulated for each of the country’s nine Census divisions.  Traditionally, porches on new homes have been most common in the four states that make up the East South Central.  That was truer than ever in 2018, when 94 percent of single-family homes started in the East South Central division had porches, followed by 74 percent in the Mountain and 70 percent in the Pacific divisions.

The SOC provides good information about the number of new single-family homes with porches, but not many details about the porches beyond that.  However, there is that kind of detail in the Builder Practices Survey (BPS), conducted annually by Home Innovation Research Labs.  Among other things, the latest BPS report (covering homes built in 2018) shows that porches continue to be most common on the front of new single-family homes, rather than on the side or rear.  When they are present, however, the side and rear porches tend to be larger—about 150 square feet, on average, compared to roughly 90 square feet for front porches.  For reference, the Census Bureau does not count the square footage of porches in its measure of new home floor space (which, as a previous post has shown, peaked in 2015 and has been drifting downward ever since).

Ed Hudson of Home Innovation Research Labs has pointed out another interesting trend.  Although it is true that side and rear porches remain less common than front porches on new single-family homes, the incidence of side and rear porches has nevertheless increased substantially over the past six years.  The BPS shows side and rear porches on only 7 percent of single-family homes built in 2013, but on over 20 percent of single-family homes built in the last three years, with a maximum of 25 percent in 2016 (a year after the peak in new single-family home size).

On a square footage basis, builders use more concrete in new-home porches than any other building material.  Treated wood is second (treated, because relatively few commonly used wood species are suitable for outdoor use unless pressure treated with preserving chemicals).  However, composite (a combination of usually recycled wood fibers and plastic) has gained in popularity, and now builders use almost as much composite as treated wood in new home porches.  In five of the nine divisions (the Mid Atlantic, East and West North Central, Mountain and Pacific), use of composite actually exceeds use of treated wood.  In the Pacific division, the ratio of composite to treated wood is nearly ten to one.

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