Visualizing Which States Are Building the Most Homes

Building permit numbers are one of most reliable indicators of the construction industry’s activity in the United States. Data from the National Association of Home Builders compiled by till November 2017 shows single-family house permits surging to 761,229, a 10.2% rise over the same period in 2016. Our maps break down the state level distribution of building permits as well as the number of building permits per capita to give you an idea of what to expect from the construction industry in 2018.

In the state level distribution of building permits issued, Texas, Florida and California immediately stand out with the highest number of permits issued. States on the East coast in general show a larger number of building permits issued while most of the central United States (with the exception of Texas) shows a lower number of permits being issued. One of the dominant factors in this trend are recovery activities post hurricane season, corresponding to the high number of permits issued and an acute shortage of construction workers and supplies in Florida and Texas which were among the worst affected states. This hypothesis is further strengthened by a month by month analysis of the data which shows a significant drop in single family building permits issued during hurricanes the months of Irma and Harvey followed by a spike as homeowners scramble to fix damages.

Top 10 States with the Most Building Permits Issued in 2017 Number of Building Permits
1. Texas 157,227
2. Florida 110,147
3. California 101,657
4. North Carolina 60,104
5. Georgia 46,783
6. Washington 42,603
7. Colorado 39,142
8. New York 36,836
9. Tennessee 35,858
10. Arizona 34,990

While having the total number of permits issued gives us important information, looking at the ratio of permits issued capita gives us a more useful metric to gauge the construction industry’s performance in any state. The building permits issued per 1000 residents shown in the map above immediately highlights Idaho, Utah, Colorado and District of Columbia. Despite not being particularly prominent on the first map due to their low populations, the second map shows the high demand for construction in these states. Texas and Florida still posted high values despite being the second and third most populous states in the United States, driven by hurricane recovery activities in the two states. In contrast to this, California posted a small per capita value, being the most populous state in the United States and being generally unaffected by the hurricane season. Moreover, we also notice high values for North and South Carolina which were also impacted during the hurricane season. The northern as well as central west states also show quite good numbers per capita despite having a fewer total number of permits issued, pointing to the overall rise in the demand for construction in the United States.

Top 10 States with the Most Building Permits Issued per Capita in 2017 Number of Building Permits Per Capita (Per 1,000 Residents)
1. District Of Columbia 8.6
2. Utah 7.5
3. Idaho 7.2
4. Colorado 7.0
5. South Carolina 6.5
6. Delaware 6.4
7. Nevada 6.0
8. South Dakota 5.9
9. North Carolina 5.9
10. Washington 5.8

All in all, analysing the building permit data gives a good indicator of the trends in the construction industry. It shows the impact the hurricane season on the hardest hit states as well as the overall high demand in the construction industry in the United States going into 2018. These factors, coupled with an ongoing shortage of construction workers, can be important considerations whether you want to start renovations or a new project in your state.

Yuka Kato

Industry Analyst