Volume 13, Issue 6 - July/August 2012

From The Publisher

Another Number on the Way Up
by Tara Taffera

With the decline of the housing market in recent years, all you hear is how far housing starts are down. You hear how far that number is off from the boom years. Whenever a new report comes out from the leading economists, the industry hones in to hear the latest predications. So we all are keenly in tune to the future of housing starts and, of course remodeling activity, as well.

But there is another incredibly shrinking number that has received a little less press, but that also plays into the dwindling door and window market.

As Michael Collins points out in his column on page 6, the size of homes has been shrinking as well, and how he broke down that number in terms of doors and windows was an eye opener.

In the recession of 1982, the average newly built home was only 1,710 square feet in size. In general, though, homes grew in size until they peaked in 2009. By 2010, average home sizes had dropped to 2,135 square feet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That 565-square-foot decrease is extremely meaningful to fenestration companies, says Collins.

“A decline of that magnitude probably means the home has shed one interior door, one closet door and two or three windows. Depending on the layout of the home, a drop of that size may also eliminate a sliding door or similar entry door,” he says.

But on a positive note that trend is changing. Just as housing starts are slowly but surely inching their way up, so, too, are home sizes which ultimately will mean more doors and windows in the years to come.

Always one to point out the bright side, he adds another interesting fact from the U.S. Census Bureau. Recent data confirms that, “in fact, home sizes have not entered a permanent decline. In fact, home sizes rose by roughly 100 square feet from 2010 to 2011. Now, that is not as much as they had fallen, but when predictions have been made that home sizes are in permanent decline, an increase in size of 4.5 percent is very noteworthy,” he says.

I’ll take the housing starts’ small increases and the increasing square footage as well. So remind yourself of these positives when times get tough. Slowly but surely those small climbs will eventually equal significant gains.

As always I would love to hear from you. Email your thoughts on these and other topics to ttaffera@glass.com.


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