In a recent article, NAHB analysis of government data found that new single-family and multifamily construction used a total of roughly $94.93 billion in building products in 2019. Although the vast majority of the $94.93 billion was produced domestically, supporting jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector, about 6.4 percent ($6.12 billion) was imported from other countries. It may seem a relatively small number, but the 6.4 percent of the products that are imported can be important in plugging gaps in supply and preventing spikes in input prices.
Data for these estimates came primarily from the supply tables in the Input-Output Accounts generated by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). To isolate the products used by new single-family and multifamily construction, NAHB relied on the most detailed version of the tables, with information on over 400 industry and product categories. Because these tables are available only with a lag, NAHB adjusted them to 2019 levels using the changes in single-family and multifamily Residential Fixed Investment in BEA’s National Income and Product Accounts. For convenience, and to make the results compatible with other data (particularly data available at the state level), NAHB aggregated the product categories slightly, up to 50 of the 4-digit categories in the North American Industry Classification System. The 10 products that were used the most in new residential construction (based on dollar volume and this classification system) are shown below:
At the top of the list, as the graph shows, new residential construction used $11.71 billion of cement and concrete products in 2019, and $11.17 billion of architectural and structural metals. Architectural and structural metals is a fairly diverse category that includes metal windows and doors, sheet metal ductwork, and rails and fencing. After the top 2 categories, new residential construction also used $7.73 billion of petroleum and coal products and $6.95 billion of plastic products. Petroleum and coal products include asphalt roofing and paving materials, as well as any petroleum based fuels and lubricating products. Plastic products include plastic piping and plumbing fixtures, and polystyrene foam insulation.
Although individually accounting for smaller shares, when added together the three main categories of wood products (plywood and engineered wood products, sawn lumber and treated wood products, and “other” wood products) accounted for a little over $10 billion of the $94.93 billion in building products used in new residential construction in 2019. And this does not even include the $5.37 billion in furniture and kitchen cabinets. Also keep in mind that these estimates cover wood products used in residential construction last year, so they were purchased by builders or their subcontractors at 2019 prices—well before the latest surge in lumber prices began.
Detail on all 50 products used as inputs into residential construction in 2019—as well as supplemental information on where the products are manufactured and who decides which ones to buy—is available in the full article.