American Houses Have Gotten Really Big

Shaunacy Ferro
iStock / iStock

American houses are big. In 2014, the average new residence in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 2600 square feet. But just how large is that? 

Consider this statistic, just released in a new study of residential building sizes between 1891 and 2010: Over the course of the last 120 years, the total American floor space in residences has increased tenfold, from 24,700 million square feet to 235,150 million square feet. Now, that number doesn’t necessarily reflect a ten-time increase in the typical home’s floor space—while partially due to population increase, it’s surely skewed by the McMansions of the super-rich.

Nevertheless, the typical American home has also grown in the last few decades. This timelapse of home sizes between 1976 and 2013 shows median U.S. home size growing almost 1000 square feet since the ‘70s. 

Image Credit: Moura et al., PLOS ONE (2015)

Meanwhile, the number of people living in those larger-than-ever homes is falling. More Americans are living alone, and families are having fewer children than they did in the early 20th century. As a result, the number of square feet of home space per person (again, as a population average) has doubled, from about 400 square feet to 800 square feet.