How to Compost at Any Home

Making your own compost is a great way to save money on gardening supplies. It's also a more sustainable means of living, as table scraps are basically used to grow your gardens and make your dream home even more idyllic.

Prospective homeowners interested in green house plans may want to consider composting as part of an overall strategy to live sustainably. However, anyone can make their own compost pile, no matter the design of their home or the square footage of their land.

Making the pile
Despite what many people think, composting is incredibly easy. To do it, all people need do is toss organic piles in a container and give it a little bit of oxygen and water. You don't even need an enclosure. The only major tasks involved are sorting out your scraps to add to the pile and checking on the pile to see that it hasn't dried out or become too wet.

To start, HGTV recommended choosing a pile spot that gets a few hours of sun a day, is situated away from tree roots, which suck out nutrients from the compost, and is conveniently located. Grass should be dug up and removed or turned over as a base for the pile. After that, you can start adding organic material to the pile. The ideal size for the pile will be roughly 3 feet square at the base and 3 feet high, guaranteeing that the pile will cook while still getting oxygen.

As the pile grows, you will want to water it lightly but regularly so that is has the consistency of a damp sponge, according to Better Homes and Gardens. If the pile is too dry it won't decompose and if its too wet it will rot and begin to smell. You should also turn the pile once a week with a garden fork so that it gets plenty of oxygen.

Choosing materials
There are many different approaches to choosing and sorting potential compost materials. Some people will throw anything that's organic into the pile, while others are highly selective. Fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds and garden clippings are some of the more common materials that go into a pile. However, that list is far from inclusive, as TLC demonstrated with a list of 75 items that can be composted. Tea bags, stale bread, moldy cheese, preserves, paper cupcake cups, toilet paper, dryer lint and even cotton clothing ripped into pieces are all good materials for the pile.

Incorporating into your home
While it is possible to create a compost pile without an enclosure, many homeowners may feel that the look of an organic heap is probably not the most appealing backyard decoration. Fortunately, though, compost piles can easily be dressed up with a chicken wire enclosure or even a stout wooden fence. The design can even reflect the home, with a more wooden feel for traditional homes or wire for contemporary constructions. Given the needed size of the compost pile, it won't take up much space in even the smallest of lots.

The larger concern for homeowners, however, may be the hassle of sorting out scraps. All this requires is a small, separate bin next to your trash can where leftover food items can go. Even in an efficient kitchen such as this one, all that is needed is a designated cabinet for a small container. Because compost piles don't smell when done properly, you can even situate the pile conveniently next to that house's backyard deck. When the bin gets full, homeowners only have to take a few steps to empty it out.

A Tale of Two Bedrooms

While bedrooms come in all sizes and designs, they almost always have one thing in mind: comfort. Fortunately, no matter the house plan – nor the size of the room – homeowners can easily achieve that perfection.

A comfortable room is hard to plan in the abstract, given that a myriad of details such as the opacity of window treatments or the positioning of the bed can have a large impact. Furthermore, from site to size, each home offers its own unique context, which will inevitably shape the design of the bedroom. Fortunately, though, there are some common techniques that can help homeowners choose the right layout, no matter the house. To help demonstrate this point, we've highlighted two bedrooms, one from a collection of luxury house plans, and another among small house plans. Both have the opportunity to be great places to retire at the end of the day.

The quaint bedroom
This small house plan is efficient, but no less charming because of its size. The bedrooms are by no means tiny, but they are relatively constrained compared to the grand master suite serving as a counter-example in this article. The tertiary bedroom is the smallest in the house – roughly 11 feet by 10 feet – and does not include a bay window like the other others. While there is limited space to work with, it's still possible to create an excellent room. 

First, it's important to keep in mind a few basics of bedroom design. As Houzz noted, simple circulation is one of the key elements to good layout. According to the design site, it's usually best to keep floor space circulation to one side of the room. Another helpful tip is to naturally create a sense of privacy by orienting the bed out of sight from the entryway. Finally, you'll want to emphasize the view of the room, which is a natural focal point and a source of warming sunlight. 

Applied to this small bedroom, it becomes readily evident that the best placement for the bed is on the left wall, adjacent to the closet. Given the dimensions of the room, the bed should be perpendicular to the wall, so that it naturally aligns lengthwise to the room, and the head of the bed is no longer visible at the entryway. A dresser may be positioned opposite the bed without obstructing the view. If the space still feels cramped, mirrors and bright paint colors will help to create a more open room. 

The luxury suite
On the other end of the spectrum is this luxury house plan's master suite. Boasting whopping dimensions of more than 18 feet by 16 feet as well as three entry points – from the lanai, the study and the hall – this room features its own particular design hurdles. The privacy issue is heightened by all the doorways as well as all the windows. Also, a focused layout can seem difficult with so much space. A good place for the bed may be the perpendicular to the wall adjacent to the master bath, but that's more interruptive of the natural flow of the room than against the rightmost wall. 

Once the bed is placed, however, there is still plenty of space to organize. According to HGTV, large rooms can be divided into multiple functional zones to recreate the feel of a hotel suite. In this instance, it may be worthwhile to place the bed closer to the master bath wall, and create a sitting space in the back-right corner of the room. Meanwhile a dresser can be positioned on the wall adjacent to the owner's study. 

Design Tips For a Clean Kitchen

We've already covered general home design tips that will make spring cleaning easier. However, each room of your house poses its own challenges when it comes to freshening up – the kitchen, especially.

Of all the rooms in a home, the kitchen is probably the easiest to make dirty, and the one people spend the most time cleaning. Scrubbing it down is not just a matter of keeping up appearances, but also maintaining a proper level of hygiene. Fortunately, you don't have to cut down on the meals you prepare to keep a kitchen spic-and-span. If you're in the process of designing your kitchen, consider these ideas that will make cleaning up on a daily basis less of a chore. 

Cleanable surfaces
A general strategy for keeping your home clean is to install floors that can be easily mopped and dusted. The same idea applies to kitchen surfaces, the most essential being countertops. The less nooks and crannies in your countertops the better. Instead of installing tiled counters, invest in a material that's easy to wipe down. Granite has long been the popular choice for people wanting a quality, low-maintenance countertop with plenty of personal character. However, granite does require occasional sealing. Houzz recommended stainless steel, quartz, Corian and laminates as options that neither have grout nor require sealing. Another option is to install large porcelain tiles which have less grout lines than smaller tiles, are cost-effective and easy to install. 

You may also want to pay attention to your backsplash. Surfaces such as glass, stone or laminate only require a simple wipe to clean. Just like your countertops, the fewer grout lines, the better. Glass looks especially nice, though it may require a window-cleaning product to keep it from getting streaky. Stone, while expensive, also looks the cleanest. Laminate will be your cheapest option.

Efficient layout
Messes can easily happen when the layout of your kitchen is not efficient. As Better Homes and Gardens noted, spills are more likely to occur the farther you have to carry things, such as a pot from the sink to the stove. To solve this problem, make sure your kitchen has a well-designed arrangement of your sink, oven, refrigerator and trash. The work triangle of this craftsman house plan is efficient in that the chef need not work far to reach the stove, the sink or the refrigerator. Additionally, there is plenty of counter space to prepare food on either side of both the sink and stove. You may also want to consider installing a lower-level drawer for recycling and garbage, so scraps and excess may easily be disposed. 

Integrated drain boards
In your pursuit of easily cleanable countertops, consider an integrated drain board. The design is basically a short section of sloped countertop that drains directly into the sink – perfect for drying large pots and pans without the trouble of setting up a drying rack. All that's required for cleaning is soap and water. 

Plenty of storage
Cooking tools can easily pile up in a kitchen. If you don't have the proper storage for it all, you may end up with cluttered counters and overstuff cabinets. Such messes can make it hard to find ingredients and cook comfortably. By designing with storage in mind, you can make sure that everything has its own place. Even if you're working with small house plans, many blueprints make maximal use of an efficient kitchen space. Frugal homeowners may also want to implement wall hooks, under-island storage space and other creative storage solutions. To keep a clean look, it's also possible to install appliance cabinets for items such as mixers, blenders and food processors. 

What You Should Know About the Color of Your Roof

Never mind the palette for your living room – homeowners, especially those interested in green house plans, should first figure out the color of their roofs. A new study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that white roofs may just make for a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly house topper than the traditional black or the trendy vegetated "green" varieties. While climate change may be of primary concern for some, even those wanting to save some money should still give some thought to the roof over their heads.

The cost of cover
Berkeley lab researchers examined the three types of roofs and their life cycle cost over a 50-year period. Their conclusions were clear:

"White roofs win based on the purely economic factors we included, and black roofs should be phased out," said Arthur Rosenfield, a co-author of the paper and former Commissioner of the California Energy Commission.

According to the researchers, white roofs do a better job cooling a building and the surrounding city air than black roofs because they reflect light and heat rather than absorb it. In fact, not only were black roofs deemed economically inefficient, but also hazardous, as high summer temperatures can cause the top floors of buildings to become extremely hot.

While green roofs are similarly effective at cooling as white ones, the latter was three times more effective at countering climate change, as it purportedly kept sunlight from being absorbed into the earth's surface. Additionally, green roofs required higher installation costs than the other two kinds of roofs. Yet, the study authors also acknowledged that they did not fully investigate the benefits of the vegetation option, citing storm water management and aesthetic pleasures associated with a rooftop garden.

A grain of salt
The study seems to come down decidedly in favor of white roofs, however, Stanford research a couple of years prior indicated that reflective white actually may actually result in a net global warming due to the fact the redirected sunlight could disperse earth-cooling clouds and result in further absorption of light by pollutants. While the study did not address the potential benefit of reduced electricity bills in the summer due to a white roof, the argument could be made that those savings are lost come winter, when heat absorption may actually be a benefit.

"Cooling your house with white roofs at the expense of warming the planet is not a very desirable trade-off," said lead researcher Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering.

An alternative to white roofs, according to the Stanford press release, would be photovoltaic panels that generate electricity without reflecting sunlight back into the atmosphere.

Location, location, location
Conflicting research may make it hard for you to decide on your best course of action. Apart from the color, you also have plenty of materials that change the efficiency of your roofs. Additional factors such as sunlight exposure and even the pitch of the roof may influence your decision. Yet, local climate should be one of the first considerations.

White and vegetative roofs are good at keeping buildings cool, which makes them great for sunny, warm temperature climates, such as Arizona or Southern California. If you're looking at Florida house plans such as this one, you may want to consider cooling options. People in cold climates like New England, however, require heat absorption. A dark roof can even assist in snow melt in the winter months. In any case, it's always a good idea to talk to your contractor about the most cost-efficient options as well as the feasibility of implementing them.

Study Finds Owner Satisfaction With Green Homes

Green building practices make up one of the most prominent building trends of the last decade. Yet, given that the field of sustainability is still in its infancy, people may wonder just how satisfied people are with their environmentally friendly homes.

Survey says? They love it. 

A recent study commissioned by the National Association of Home Builders found that 94 percent of people who purchased a National Green Building Standard-certified home said they would recommend a green residence to a friend. An equal percentage of people agreed that they were generally satisfied with the energy performance of their homes. Finally, 92 percent said they would purchase a green home in the future. 

Energy efficient, green house plans exist in abundance for homeowners who are interested. The question remains, though, what exactly did green homeowners find so satisfying? 

Defining green 
An overwhelming majority of homeowners surveyed said that they understood what was meant by the term green home. The truth is, however, many people don't, even when they think they do. That's because the phrase is rather nebulous – it's an umbrella term that has morphed through connotations to refer to many aspects of environmentally and energy-conscious building. An environmentally friendly home doesn't necessarily mean energy-efficient, nor does either quite mean sustainability. Generally, though, green homes are a combination of all of these components – homes that are less damaging to the environment, minimize energy usage, built with renewable resources and possess a small carbon footprint. The National Green Building Standard is just one of many measures of these efforts for U.S. homes and structures.

Dissecting the answers
The survey, conducted by GuildQuality, centered on people's satisfaction with various aspects of their green homes, which are also common features of many green home plans. Air quality, water efficiency, heating, cooling and natural light were all scrutinized in the survey. Some 92 percent of respondents agreed that their home maintained consistent temperatures and were less drafty than non-green homes. A majority of 86 percent agreed that they had lower utility bills than in traditional homes. More tellingly, when asked what green features were most important in choosing or building green homes, the top answers were insulation, efficiency, energy, heating, cooling and windows. Those aspects that they were most satisfied with were low-utility bills, energy efficiency and insulation. 

Achieving green
All of these features sound great, but it's important that homeowners understand how architects and builders achieve them. While many green homes take on a modern, minimalist look, it's important to note that green building is largely concerned with design, not style. It's possible to have traditional-looking home plans that are still sustainable. Much of what makes green homes work are efficient layout, construction and Energy Star-approved products, from windows to HVAC systems. Builders of green homes usually pay special attention to developing a tight air seal and installing high-quality insulation, which cuts down on draftiness and therefore heating and cooling bills. Additionally, green houses may maximize natural heating through strategically placed windows and heat-absorbing building materials. 

Different designs
This house plan, for example, boasts plenty of green house features, while maintaining an elegant stonework design that harkens back at least a century or two. Meanwhile, this modest house plan features a simple neo-colonial style in a no-frills, high-efficiency package. In short, homeowners aren't limited by their tastes when it comes to selecting their green homes. Furthermore, even houses not originally billed as energy-efficient can still be built with Energy Star products to improve their quality in sustainability. All that's required is some forethought in the building of the home and a willingness to adjust to different, more efficient kind of living. Fortunately, plenty of intelligently designed home plans eliminate much of that hassle. 

Affordable Luxury May Be One of This Year”s Design Trends

Paste Magazine recently posted its predictions for the top 10 design trends of 2014. One in particular – high style at low prices – is an equally fitting description of pre-drawn house plans. People hoping to build a home that's luxurious inside and out may just have a bright year ahead of them.

The economics of pre-drawn plans
A personal architect will help customize your home to your every whim – for a price. Unfortunately, that level of site-specific design is enough to price out plenty of prospective homeowners. Pre-drawn house plans offer the advantage of a much cheaper alternative. However, a cost-effective blueprint doesn't necessarily equate to poor quality design. Plenty of pre-drawn home plans are designed by renowned architects, and an extensive selection of such blueprints means that buyers may be able to find their dream home at a fraction of the cost of designing from scratch. These pre-drawn blueprints range from French country designs to luxury house plans, ensuring that it is, indeed, possible to achieve high style at low prices.

Matching inside to the outside 
Fine house plans demand equally tasteful and elegant design. According to Paste Magazine, home goods stores are making it easier than ever for homeowners to achieve high-class looks at affordable prices. The Internet also has plenty of design websites that grant shoppers the opportunity to find deals on normally pricey furnishings. Chandeliers to hang in the dining room or in a grand stairwell can be found at a bargain online, whether homeowners are looking for something rustic, minimalist or Victorian. No matter what you're looking for, you can probably find it on sale online.

Of course, high style at low prices has always been available for buyers who know how to look. Thrift stores and antique shops offer plenty of slightly used but nonetheless high-quality furnishings. In many instances, you can find these older goods to be of a better craftsmanship and durability than mass-produced furniture made today. The trick to shopping used is to look past initial appearances. Ripped fabric or a scratched leg of a couch may seem unappealing, but reupholstering and refurbishing are relatively cheap services. You can even do them yourself. More important when buying used furniture is determining whether the structure is intact, the materials of good quality and the basic design appealing. Other flaws can usually be buffed, stained or patched according to your needs.

Taking advantage of other trends
Given the possibility for affordable design, people can even start implementing some of the year's other supposed design trends. These included rich, luxurious fabrics and sculptural artwork, both of which would add some serious flair to any room. Light wood and natural elements were other predicted highlights for the year. Given that wood shades are always coming in and out of style, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a nice piece of used furniture made from maple, oak, ash or pine. People who like print also have reason to embrace design in 2014, as classic patterns with a modern twist also made the list. The celebration of pattern is yet another reason why homeowners may want to try their hand at reupholstering antiques at a fraction of the cost.

Cost-Effective Designs to Incorporate Into Your New Home

Remodeling magazine recently released its annual "Cost vs. Value" report on popular remodeling projects and how well they retain their value over the years. People who are building their own homes obviously need not worry about remodeling just yet, but they should nevertheless take note of the report. By incorporating some of these home improvement strategies early in the building process, homeowners have the opportunity to increase the functionality and appeal of their home while saving more money by doing them during the construction phase.

Plenty of craftsman house plans already feature these kinds of additions or can easily be fitted to incorporate them. Here's a summary of some of the top findings, as well as some ways in which people building new homes can take advantage of them.  

Cost-effective across the country
A total of 35 popular mid-range and upscale remodeling projects were featured in the report, spanning everything from sunroom additions to fiber-cement siding replacements. Of the 22 mid-range projects, the most-cost effective projects for 2014 by national average were steel entry door replacements, wood deck additions, attic bedrooms, garage door replacements and minor kitchen remodels. Homeowners who look at the list may note that the national average returns often fall below 100 percent, however, they should take into consideration the importance of region. A wood deck addition in Alaska may only garner 87.5 percent of the cost recouped in 2014, but in Hawaii the addition resulted in 150 percent of the cost being recouped, resulting in a positive return of investment. 

Steel entry door replacements
While this project is maybe not the flashiest, it was the easiest way to contribute to the curb appeal of a home, thanks to low cost and the highest rate of return based on the national average. A steel door is sturdier than aluminum, more durable and gives the front of a home a sharp sheen. Most any house based on a craftsman house plan can be incorporated with this kind of door. 

Wood deck addition
This was the second-most worthwhile home addition, and if you're planning to build a home, you've probably already debated incorporating one. Wooden decks in particular fared well on the market, and there are a number of floor plans that incorporate them into their design. This craftsman vacation home is a beautiful design that offers a rustic but grand wraparound deck that provides the opportunity for excellent views of the backyard.

When considering decks, however, homeowners should take into consideration the kinds of activities they want to do on them. A thinner platform is fine for sitting and relaxing, but families that want to host parties or live in colder climates may also want to consider lanais or screened porches. These offer year-round relaxation while still providing the option for an open, airy indoor-outdoor space.

Attic bedroom
That same design also boasts an attic bedroom. The appeal of an upper-level sleeping area for homeowners is mainly the added space for more guests or children. Often, the number of beds and baths are among the first things listed by real estate and floor planning companies, as it helps indicate the size and worth of a home. House blueprints that allow for attic bedrooms, then, have an advantage in terms of design flexibility. The upper level in the previously mentioned vacation home is designed specifically to be a bedroom, however, other house floor plans feature the attic as a functional, multi-purpose space. This Florida house plan, for example, features three attic bonus areas to be used at the homeowner's discretion.

The Advantages of Side-Loading Garages

The garage is a main entrance for many homeowners, but it also serves a number of other design functions. While plenty of homes feature garage entrances on their front facades, homeowners may want to consider the advantages of side-loading garages, an easily achievable addition to many craftsman house plans.

A cleaner front
Side-loading garages are often built for the purpose of aesthetics. Garages on the front of the house can be distracting and are even considered an eyesore to some. Homeowners who want a "cleaner" front to their home may want to situate the garage on the side, where it is out of sight. A perfect example of the aesthetic gain of a side-loading garage is this family-friendly home model, which offers a perfectly symmetrical facade that would be disrupted by the placement of a garage door. Side-loading garages may not only suit your tastes, they can make a huge difference years down the line if you ever consider selling.

Curb appeal is one of the main arguments for a side-loading garage. While you may not be interested in selling your house anytime soon, this design choice may be considered an investment, much like the decision to buy a home in the first place. The front of a house is the first impression that potential buyers get, and can often influence their decision about whether to even look at the rest of the house.

Lot considerations
While a side-loading garage can look cleaner, it can sometimes be pricier and more inconvenient for homeowners than a simple front-loading garage. Every inch of driveway costs money, and you'll likely need to pave more to reach the side of the house than the front. Homeowners should talk with their architect or contractor about ways to minimize the cost of an extended driveway.

Another large problem with side garages is a matter of space. Your driveway will likely lead from the front yard to the side of the house, where it must then make a 90 degree turn to connect to the garage. Cars will need enough space to make that turn comfortably, meaning more pavement on the side of the house and a large enough lot to accommodate a sizable driveway.

This issue actually leads to a different kind of aesthetic concern. While you may have preserved the integrity of the front facade, driveways can eat up a considerable proportion of a side yard, thereby cutting down on grass, plants and potentially play space for children.

Consider design
If you have a sizable lot, then a side-loading garage may be a good option. However, whichever way you lean, it's also important to consider the overall design of the house in relation to the garage. The layout in this Mediterranean style home, for example, is positioned so that the garage connects immediately to a utility room and kitchen, while at the same time creating an enclave at the entrance of the house. In this case, the garage makes aesthetic as well as utilitarian sense. While you may be disinclined to choose a side-loading garage, you also need to examine connections such as these and decide whether the position of the garage contributes to a natural flow through the house.

Working the front
In that same vein, it's important to recognize that not all side-loading garages are prettier than their front-loading counterparts. Often a front-loading garage is an opportunity for smart and elegant design. While the garage is conspicuous, the door is designed to match the wood cladding on the left side of the facade, creating a tasteful connection throughout the house.

Finding the Right Dining Room Table

You want your dining room table to seat family and friends comfortably, but you also need it to sit inside your home. Getting the perfect dining room table to fit your floor plans is about striking a balance between personal preference and function. Here are some considerations when choosing this key piece of furniture:

Ample table space
Dining room tables are meant for family and formal feasts alike. As such, you'll want a table that can accommodate place settings and serving dishes comfortably, as well as candles and centerpieces. Be sure to account for elbow room in addition to space taken up for plates, silverware, drinks and side dishes. Any less space than two feet per person will feel crowded. If you have people sitting across from one another, you'll want a table that's at least three feet wide.

You'll also want to keep in mind how many people you plan to seat around your table. Couples who expect to have kids should plan for a potential need for more place settings in the future. Also, if you plan on hosting holiday dinners or even friendly gatherings, you may want to invest in a table that fits more than just your family unit. However, you may not have any interest in hosting dinner parties or even eating meals in the dining room. If you plan to use that space as a flex room, feel free to choose a table that better suits your needs.

Chair and walking room
Guests at your table are going to need to get up out of their chairs, not to mention ample room to walk around the dining area. While you can technically fit chairs with two feet of room between table and wall, three feet will make for a much more comfortable dining space. You should also give yourself more room if you plan to have other furnishings in the room, such as a liquor trolley or a cabinet for fine china. However, you may also get away with less room on one side if the adjacent wall is knocked down for an open layout.

Matching design
Your final consideration should be how the table fits with the overall design of the room. You may want to find a table that fits the style of the rest of the room. A formal, neocolonial space may look best with an antique table, while a room decorated in the vein of country house plans may look best with something more roughly hewn and rustic. However, much more important than the material and ornament of the table is its shape. 

In a square room, you can easily fit any shape of table, whether round, square or rectangular. However, in oblong rooms, a circular or square table will likely look strange. Furthermore, the table should be oriented to parallel the layout of the space, so that the longer sides of a table correspond with the longer sides of the room. This layout also maximizes efficiency.

Looking at a test case
Craftsman house plans such as this one feature plenty of versatility in terms of dining. In addition to the dining room, there is also a nook and a barbecue porch, all of which can have a dining table. To illustrate the previous points, a table in the dining room should probably be no less than 3' by 3' and no bigger than 7' by 10'. If need be, the dining room can cheat on the 2' walk space rule on the side closest to the foyer. Given the presence of the fireplace and the semi-open layout between the dining room and the family room, a small, modest dining room table may be the best option to match the space. 

Housing Construction is Looking Up

People shopping for floor plans in 2014 may find themselves in good company. Despite a slight dip in housing starts in December compared to November, it seems as if the housing production market will continue to grow in the coming year, with some cities already showing historic highs in terms of home building.

Spikes and improvements
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently released statistics concerning the number of new privately owned housing units authorized in permit-issuing places over the past year, as well as statistics on the different phases of construction for new privately owned units. Nationally speaking, the number of permits and housing starts saw a decrease from November to December last year, with a 3 percent and a 10 percent dip respectively. However, November marked an unusual spike in 2013's overall trend.

Compared to December 2012, this last month actually saw a 4 percent increase in terms of authorized permits. Looking at yearly averages, there was a 17.5 percent improvement between 2012 and 2013, with 974,700 housing units last year over the 829,700 issuances in the previous year.

These statistics saw a roughly similar pattern in terms of housing starts, as there was a 1.6 percent increase in December 2013 compared to December 2012, and, in terms of yearly change, an 18.3 percent increase.

Breaking down the numbers
These national totals included multi- as well as single-family homes, but the statistics also showed improvements across differently sized housing units. Single-family homes – the largest sector of housing construction – also saw a percentage increase in permits authorized from year to year, as well as the number of homes under construction. Between 2012 and 2013, there was actually a 19 percent increase in single-family permits, roughly 1.5 percent higher than the total average. Housing starts, however, saw a roughly 3 percent dip for single-family homes. These numbers were then further broken down by national regions, all of which saw a yearly increase in issued permits. 

While the December dip may seem to be a sign that the housing market is slowing, Rick Judson – chairman of the National Association of Home Builders – noted that December's numbers were merely a return to trend after a particularly robust November, and that it was the third-highest monthly level of production in 2013, according to the NAHB. In general, that trend seems to be positive.

"Last year was a good year for home building, with overall production up 18 percent from 2012," said Chief Economist David Crowe of the National Association of Home Builders. "As pent-up demand is unlocked and the labor market improves, we anticipate that 2014 should be an even better year for home construction. That's good news for economic growth, as each new home that is built creates three full-time jobs and contributes to the tax base of local communities."

Cities of growth
While those statistics looked at general trends across regions, USA Today recently reported that some cities are seeing particularly robust improvements. Major cities in Texas in particular have reached 30-year average levels of single-family home building, specifically in Houston and Austin. Other cities that saw improvements include Nashville, San Antonio, Dallas and Jacksonville. When including multifamily construction, San Francisco, New York Seattle, Boston and Miami also reached or surpassed their own historic building levels.

Apparently some cities were able to reach those numbers because they hadn't already been overbuilt. Yet, according to the news source, economists are citing available land, pent-up demand, strong economies and good job growth as other reasons for the improved numbers.