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Structure of the
RESIDENTIAL
BUILDING INDUSTRY

in 1949

Novem ber 1954
Bulletin No. 1 17 0
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Jam es P. Mitchell, S ecre tary

BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS


Aryness Joy Wickens, Acting Commissioner





Structure of the RESIDENTIAL
BUILDING IN
DUSTRY in 1949

Bulletin No 117 0

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Jam es P. Mitchell, Secretary

BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
Aryness Joy Wickons, Acting Commissioner

 the S u p e r in te n d e n t
For sa le by


of Do cu me n ts, U. S. G o v e rn m e n t P ri n t in g O f f i c e , W a s h i n g t o n 25 , D. C.

Price 30 cents




CO N TEN TS

Page
IN T R O D U C T IO N

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P A R T IC IP A N T S IN NEW H O M E B U IL D IN G ...........................................................
C o n tr a c t v s . O p e r a tiv e B u ild e r s .............................................
O w n er In itia ted v s . B u ild e r In itia ted H ou sin g ...............................................

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5

S C A L E O F O P E R A T IO N S

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TH E G E N E R A L C O N T R A C T O R ......................................................................................

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TH E O P E R A T IV E B U IL D E R .........................................................................................
The 1- to 4 - H ou se O p e r a tiv e B u ild e r .................................................................
The O p e r a tiv e B u ild e r in N o n m e tr o p o lita n A r e a s
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The M e d iu m - and L a r g e - S c a le O p e r a tiv e B u i l d e r .........................................

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10

B U IL D E R S WHO C O M B IN E D O P E R A T IV E B U ILD IN G AN D
G E N E R A L C O N T R A C T IN G ........................................................................................

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A P A R T M E N T B U ILD IN G

11

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S IN G L E -F A M IL Y HOUSE B U ILD IN G

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S P E C IA L IZ A T IO N IN R E S ID E N T IA L B U ILD IN G
L O C A L IS M O F R E S ID E N T IA L B U ILD IN G

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IM P L IC A T IO N S O F TH E 1949 S T R U C T U R E
A P P E N D IX A — SU R V E Y DESIGN
A P P E N D IX B — G L O S SA R Y

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A P P E N D IX C— L IS T O F T A B L E S




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iii




STRUCTURE OF THE RESIDENTIAL BUILDING INDUSTRY IN 1949
INTRODUCTION
Residential building--the work of producing shelter--is one of the most impor­
tant activities in our society. It is the largest contributor to capital formation and a
major consumer of goods and services.
Insight into the structure and scale of residential building operations is of
special concern, because the industry’s organization determines to a large extent the
amount, kind, quality, and distribution of the new housing produced. Information about
the industry structure is needed therefore to help in shaping and administering national
housing policy. For example, the extension or modification of private home financing aids
through such agencies as the Federal Housing Administration, the Veterans Administration,
the Federal National Mortgage Association, and the Home Loan Bank Board, must take into
account the scale and character of the operations of home builders.
Private
business is also aided by such knowledge. The large group of impor­
tant industries producing building materials and equipment need information about the
characteristics, dispersion and size of builders using their products, to assist them in
planning their production, sales, and distribution systems. Facts about the organization
of homebuilding operations are useful tools to the residential builders themselves in
their efforts to improve management, marketing, and financing practices, and to promote
national housing policies consistent with broadening their markets and providing the kinds
and quality of shelter the country needs.
This report presents and interprets the final and complete results from the only
nationwide study so far conducted to analyze the organization and scale of residential
builders* operations . * It presents facts for the first time in answer to the following
1
fundamental questions:
What share of all new housing is produced by professional, or commercial, build­
ers, i.e., those who build for a living or for profit, as distinguished from amateurs who
build houses only for their own occupancy? 2
Which type of professional builder predominates? The custom builder (general
contractor) who builds new housing on order, on someone else*s land and to another's spec­
ifications; or the merchant or operative.builder, who builds new housing to his own speci­
fications on his own land for unidentified future buyers or renters~
What share of the total market does each have, and how large is the respective
scale of operations?
Is there a substantial difference between large and small communities in the
scale ol homebuilders’ operations and in the share of new house production by the various
types of builders?

* By Dorothy K. Newman and Adela L. Stuoke of the Bureau of Labor Statistics* Division of Construction
Statistics* Edward M. Gordon directed the field survey upon whioh these findings are based, as well as
tabulation of the results.
1 The study was a sample survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1951 with research funds
provided by the Housing and Home Finance Agency; it covered residential builders * private housing opera­
tions in 19490 See Appendix A for a description of the survey methodology. .Preliminary findings were
presented in a release issued in August 1951, "120,000 Firms in the Residential Building Industry in
1949," and in an article entitled "Structure of the Residential Building Industry, 1949," whioh appeared
in the October 1951 issue of the Monthly Labor Review (pp. 454-456).
2 These are called "owner-builders," who, acting as their own general contractors, supervise the con­
struction of the project from start to finish; they may subcontract almost all of the work to special
trades contractors, or perform a substantial amount of the construction themselves, with or without
hired help. See also footnote 12 on p» 4 .




1

2
How do builders of 1-family houses differ from builders of apartments?
Do residential builders serve only a local market?
builders, if any, build outside their own communities?

What proportion of such

What other businesses do residential builders engage in when building is not
their principal occupation?
Answers to these questions in the past were usually generalizations based on
fragmentary data, or rationalization and interpretation from personal experience.
Although the literature on the building construction industry includes numerous
discussions of the characteristics of residential building operations, 3 little additional
information has been obtained about these activities since the limited field studies of
the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 1938 and 19^0-^l,* with the exception of the recent
*
work, Housebuilding in Transition, by Sherman J. Maisel.5 In the interim, Miles L. Colean
in American Housing (19^ ) ^ had effectively summarized and interpreted available data, and
Leo Grebler in Production of New Housing (1950)^ had- critically analyzed the problems and
limitations inherent in the available information and had suggested how gaps in the data
could be filled.
Maisel's book has contributed greatly to a substantive knowledge of the residen­
tial building industry1s present organization, based on a comprehensive and scientific
sample survey of builders in the San Francisco Bay area in 19^9-50. It differs from this
study mainly because it describes the structure of 1- and 2 -family housebuilding opera­
tions exclusively, and its orientation is restricted to one large metropolitan area.® It
also includes some observations about the scope and organization of 1- and 2 -family house­
builders nationally, however, based on a special tabulation of data from the Bureau of La­
bor Statistics study, the full results of which are presented in this report.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' sample survey was made in 1951* and, like most
of Maisel's study, covered residential builders' private housing operations in 19^ 9 .3
9
5
*

3 The organization and seal® of residential builders * operations are discussed in many of the publica­
tions cited in the bibliographies of the following books: Miles L. Colean, American Housing: Problems
and Prospects. New York, The Twentieth Century Fund, 1944 (pp0 441-455). Leo Grebler, Production of
New Housing. New York, Social Science Research Council, 1950 (pp. 176-180).
^ See "’ uilders of 1-Family Houses in 72 Cities," Monthly Labor Review, September 1940 (pp. 732— 743);
B
"Operations of Urban Home Builders," Monthly Labor Review, May 1941 (pp. 1283—1285); and "Builders of 1—
Family Houses in 11 Areas, 1940 and 1941," Monthly Labor Review, April 1943 (pp. 801-807). Although
these studies contributed to an understanding of residential builders* organization and have been widely
quoted for over a decade, they were nevertheless restricted in value, because: (l) the cities or areas
studied were limited in number and were chosen without attention to scientific sampling techniques;
(2)
in the first 2 studies, data were based on operations only within the city limits of permit-issuing
places, although many builders operate both inside and oatside the city limits and some builders produce *
housing in more than one city; in addition, these 2 studies made no allowance for possible overstatement
of the number of builders resulting from duplicate counting of firms that obtained permits under more
than one name; (3) no distinction was made between individuals or firms engaged in housebuilding as a
business, and the amateurs or owner-builders. All persons or firms whose names appeared on the building
permit as the persons or firms having the general contract, or the owners (in the case of operative or
owner-built houses) were classified as builders; and (4 ) the incidence of contract or custom building,
covered only in the second study cited, was overstated because a house was considered contract-built if
it was contracted for before construction began, although developers may build some houses for specula­
tion and sell copies of these houses on order. The latter are not contract-built, in the sense that
they are initiated and designed by the owner or his architect and built on the owner*s lot.

5 Sherman J. Maisel, Housebuilding in Transition. Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California
Press, 1953.
J See footnote 3.
' See footnote 3.
0 In addition, Maisel describes the details of builders* management, production, financing, and market­
ing operations, subjects outside the scope of the Bureau’s studies.
'public housing production was excluded. Public housing accounted for 36,300 dwelling units in 1949,
or 4 percent of all units started, and was produced largely by firms operating exclusively as general
contractors.




3
The Bureau*s survey found that although commercial residential builders were
substantially outnumbered by owner-builders in 19^ 9> the latter accounted for only a minor
part of the new housing. In fact, despite the numerous owner-builders and the many firms
in residential building in 19^9 whose principal occupation was in other lines of work, a
substantial core of specialized producers of housing existed. These residential build­
ers --responsible for over half of all the new housing started that year--constituted a
true residential building industry, readily distinguished from other segments of the con­
struction industry.
Most of the commercially built new housing was produced by operative builders,
even though they accounted for somewhat fewer of the residential builders in 19U 9 than did
the general contractors. This reflects the relative size of operations of the two groups,
with operative builders 1 production larger on the average than that of the general con­
tractors.. In apartment housing construction alone, however, general contractors 1 opera­
tions were larger, on the average, although their total production of apartment units was
not as great.
Although small producers predominated in commercial residential building, both
in operative building and contract work, they accounted for less than half of the commer­
cially built housing. The very largest firms, those that started 100 dwelling units or
more, comprised only 1 percent of the commercial residential builders but accounted for a
third of the industry's output. The medium-size firms that started 25 to 99 dwelling
units each in 19^9— only 3 percent of all the commercial residential builders— produced
nearly a fourth of the dwelling units started that year. In fact, the scale of residen­
tial building operations had risen, on the whole, since the late 30 *s and early U0 *s, ac ­
cording to the available evidence.
Residential builders* scale of operations was substantially greater in metropol­
itan than in nonmetropolitan areas. Consistent with this is the fact that operative
builders were somewhat more numerous than residential general contractors in metropolitan
areas, but were far outnumbered by general contractors in the nonmetropolitan areas. How­
ever, operative builders nevertheless accounted for more of the commercially built output
than general contractors even in the nonmetropolitan areas, where the latter predominated.
The year 19^9 is a good reference point for a comprehensive view of the struc­
ture of the residential building industry. For the first time in the post-World War II
period, costs were relatively stable, and the industry was free from governmental con­
trols, shortages, and critical financing problems. Residential builders were able to as­
semble efficient crews and develop their projects unhampered by restrictions over the type
and size of structures they could erect, such as existed under the Veterans Emergency
Housing Program in ItykS-bj, or by the delays and uncertainties resulting from the acute
labor and materials shortages after the war, or by the rapidly rising costs and the tight­
ened mortgage market in 19^ 8 .10
*
Mortgage money was plentiful in 19*4-9; credit terms, especially for Governmentassisted (Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Administration) loans, were extreme­
ly l i b e r a l a n d there was extensive demand for new housing which even the relatively
large production of 19^6-^8 had scarcely begun to meet. In fact, housing activity
shattered all previous records in 19*+9- In that year, too, residential builders made sub­
stantial progress in effective group organization and action. Thus, it is reasonable to
conclude that the basic postwar organization of the residential building industry was well
established in 19U 9 . It is unlikely that any fundamental modifications in the residential
building industry have occurred since then. Undoubtedly, some shifts have taken place
since 19^9 in the scale of operations and the relative share of production among the vari-

See Bureau of Labor Statistics Bulletin No* 941, Construction and Housing 1946-47, (pp© 18-23) and
Bulletin No* 984, Construction* 1948 in Review* (pp. 28-33)*
This was chiefly the result of revisions in Federal housing programs, under provisions of the Housing
Acts of 1948 and 1949, whereby mortgage ceiling3 and loan-to-value ratios were raised, and the' funos of
the Federal National Mortgage Association for buying FHA and VA loan3 were increased*




k
ous types of builders, but the extent of these changes cannot be gaged without statistical
evidence. Conjectures about their direction attempted at the close of this report (p. 13)
are based solely on an interpretation of historical events.

P A R T I C I P A N T S IN NEW H OME BUI LDI NG
Residential building is unique among major American industries in having a sub­
stantial group of amateurs in the activity. Professional builders were outnumbered over
2-to-l by owner-builders in 19*4-9 •12 The former, however, who constituted less than a
*
3
1
third of those who built new housing, accounted for 70 percent of the new units started
(table l).
This report deals primarily with those who built housing as a business enter­
prise, since these builders--commonly referred to either as commercial or professional
builders— define and shape the industry as well as account for most of the output. Never­
theless, because of its importance in the total production, owner-built housing will be
discussed in the relevant context.

C o n t r a c t v s . O p e r a t i v e B ui l de r s
The common observation in the past has been that general contractors, in addi­
tion to contributing the largest number of commercial residential builders, accounted for
the major share of new housing p r o d u c t i o n . D a t a obtained in this study, however, show
that although general contractors in residential building were somewhat more numerous than
the operative builders in 19*4-9, the latter built most of the commercially built housing.
Less than half of the commercial firms were engaged exclusively in operative building in
1914.9 (I4 percent), but these firms nevertheless accounted for almost two-thirds of the new
.5
housing produced by firms. General contractors, who comprised most of the remainder of
the commercial residential builders ( 4 9 percent), accounted for 25 percent of the new com­
*mercially built housing. A small group (6 percent) which engaged in both general con­
tracting and operative building, accounted for the remainder (l2 percent); most of this
group's housing output was operatively built.
Contract building is more prevalent within nonmetropolitan than metropolitan
areas,1* where larger markets stimulate the speculative type of housing venture charac­
1
teristic of the operative builders. Nevertheless, although in the nonmetropolitan areas
general contractors, or custom builders, far outnumbered the operative builders in 19^ 9*
the latter accounted for more of the commercially built dwelling units.

12 Owaer-builders were those building for other than oonrnercial purposes, without the services of a gen­
eral contractor* Any part of the work could be done by speoial-trade contractors, each responsible only
for the work of specific trades; or by the owner, with or without the help of family members or friends;
or by workmen hired direotly by the owner; and any combination of these methods could be used*
Almost all of the owner-builders were individuals who constructed one house only intended for use by
their own families or close relatives. There were some instances of owner-building in whieh a man built
a dwelling unit for his own family and another for relatives (ordinarily parents or children) either as
Z separate houses, or in a 2-family building. In addition, this builder classification included a small
number of other types of builders, widely diverse in their characteristics, e.g*, a man who acted as his
own general contractor in building several houses for his children, each of whom had been married re­
cently, and an institutional home operated by a large fraternal organization which built a number of
staff residences on its grounds, with the superintendent of the home directly supervising the construc­
tion.
13 Colean, on. oit.. p. 63; Grebler, op. cit.. p. 7.
In the 168 standard metropolitan areas as defined in the 1950 Census*




5

O w n er Initiated

v s . B u i l de r In i ti at e d H o u s i n g

Custom building in one sense could be conceived to include all dwellings built
specifically to the owner's design and specifications, and thus to comprise owner-builtx5
as well as contract-built housing. Admittedly, this does not conform to the popular con­
cept of custom building as including only houses built by a general contractor according
to individual drawings and specifications, particularly if these are prepared by an archi­
tect .
Many of the owner-built houses, particularly those priced at $15,000 or more (17
percent) were similar to custom- or contract-built homes even under the popular defini­
tion, since the owner-builder, acting as general contractor, in many cases employed an
architect and subcontracted all of the construction1 * Owner- and contract-built housing
16
5 .
were also alike in that both types were owner-initiated and constructed on the owner's
land, according to his specifications and design. In this sense both types were custombuilt or "tailormade.” The general contractor, like the special trades subcontractors,
performed a service function, carrying out the owner’s intention.
Contract- or owner-built housing predominated in the nonmetropolitan areas in
accounting for about 80 percent of the new housing started in these smaller places.
In contrast, in the metropolitan areas, most of the new housing (60 percent of the 1family houses and 62 percent of all the new units) was put under construction by operative
builders. In both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas combined, in 19^9, half the new
housing was owner-initiated and half was producer-initiated.

19^ 9,

Operative builders, producing for unidentified future buyers or renters, de ­
termined the number of units to build, their design, quality, size, location, and price;
frequently developed the land, and assumed the risk of selling or renting the dwellings.
In many cases they reduced their risk by building sample houses and selling copies on or­
der. Whether they laid the foundations for all the units before signing contracts, or
only as they sold copies from a sample few, they nevertheless produced a ready-made prod­
uct. Their mode of operations differed from those of the contractor and the owner-builder
in much the same way as apparel manufacturing differs from custom tailoring or dressmak­
ing.

SCALE OF O P E R AT I ON S
In its 19^9 scale of operations, professional residential building consisted of
a predominance of small producers accounting for less than half the total commercial pro­
duction, and a comparatively small number of large and medium-size firms producing the
bulk of the output. In this respect, residential building resembled a number of major
manufacturing industries

15 Although the term "owner-built" usually refers to single—f amily homes px-uduced by individual owner
ocoupants, a few 2-family houses built by owners in 1949 were included in this category for purposes of
this study; one unit usually was for the owner's family and the other was to be rented. In addition, a
few units erected for staff or inmates by institutions acting as their own general contractors were also
classified as owner-built housing. (See footnote 12 above, and table 2.)
16 The extent to which owners did some of the construction themselves is unknown. Available data on the
valuation plaoed on the owner houses show that the homes ranged all the way from minimum shelter and
shell houses to elaborate, high-priced structures. The large proportion of houses valued under $6,000
in the nonmetropolitan plaoes (39 percent) suggests that a significant number of the houses were of the
type often erected in rural areas by an owner with the help of family members and friends. In such in­
stances, some of the work may be subcontracted. This procedure is usually followed in plumbing and
electrical work, especially in those localities where separate plumbing and eleotrioal permits are re­
quired. It is likely that virtually all of the work on the more elaborate houses in value olasses above
$15,000 was subcontracted, and the owner merely performed the managerial function of the general con­
tractor. The majority of these houses were in metropolitan areas where strict building codes are in opor rtion.
(See table 6.)




6
The Bureau’s s u r v e y f o u n d that about 95 percent of the 19^9 professional
residential building firms were small (fewer than 25 dwelling units started during the
year), and that these firms accounted for only 1 5 percent of the commercially built new
*
housing. The large firms (100 units or more) and medium-size firms (25 to 99 units) to­
gether accounted for only 1 percent of the total number of commercial residential build­
+
ers, but produced 55 percent of the industry’s output. The large firms alone (l percent
of all the professional residential builders) accounted for a third of the production.
In contrast, more than *- percent of all the firms building commercially, started only 1
40
house in 19^ 9> and they accounted for less than 10 percent of the commercially built units
(tables 3 and. k) .
Unlike other industries, however, residential building is a sideline of numer­
ous firms and individuals whose chief occupation is in other, though often related fields
--such as building materials sales, special trades contracting, or the skilled trades.
(See table 6 .) Occasionally these people build a single house, or a few houses, depending
on their resources and the size of the venture which they regard as worthwhile. Some work
on their houses themselves in spare time or between jobs, and others build as an inter­
mittent supplement to their business activities. This explains to a substantial degree
the extensiveness of small-scale operations among the commercial builders.1®
Since all previous studies have covered only 1-family housebuilding, and dupli­
cate counting of some builders in the BLS 1938 study tended to underestimate the size
even of 1 -family housebuilding operations,1? there is no way of measuring accurately how
much the size distribution of residential building firms may have changed, in terms of
total private housing production, by using the BLS 19^-9 survey results. A crude
but
nevertheless suggestive measure of change in the scale of operations of residential
builders may be made by using the results of the BLS urban surveys of 1938 and the study
in 11 defense areas in 19^0 -11, and comparing them with the 19^9 data for metropolitan
*
areas only, combining both owner-built and commercially built 1 -family houses in 19^ 9* as
in the earlier reports .20 Admittedly, data for cities are biased in the direction of
smaller scale operations than data for metropolitan areas ,21 and separate projects of the
same builder that may have been authorized on separate building permits were combined in
the 19^4-9 and 191* -4l surveys, but not in the 1938 study. Furthermore, data on the build­
0
ers r size of operations in 19^9 are in terms of all the dwelling units they started, in­
stead of only the 1-family houses they began .22 Nevertheless, the differences in the
distribution of operations between 1938 or 191+O-Ul and 19^9 are sufficiently large to
warrant the conclusion that they resulted in part from a change in scale of operations
and not solely from variations in survey coverage.

17Based on Maisel’s classification as to scale of operations* Op* oit** p. 21* In this report, how­
ever, the classification, except where noted otherwise, applies to the total number of dwelling units
builders started during the year, rather than to 1- and 2-family housebuilding exclusively, as in
Maisel's study. Size of builder distributions using both criteria would not differ significantly, how­
ever, beoause of the predominance of single-family housing in total production in 1949— 4 to 1. See
table 18.
^ S e e p* 8 for a discussion of the other business activities of residential builders in 1949 and the
relation to small scale of operations.
*9 See footnote 4.
on — Maisel measured roughly the changes in scale of operations for 1— and 2-family housebuilding in ban
Francisco using data for San Francisco collected in the BLS study oovering 1-family Urban operations in
1938. In addition, he used a special tabulation from the 1949 BLS survey, which showed the relation of
total size of builder to the builders* 1- and 2-family housebuilding operations nationally, and compared
the results with adjusted figures from the 1939 Census of Construction and from the 1938 BLS urban study.
The comparison# revealed a substantial increase in average scale of operations and in the relative impor­
tance in the total output of the larger firms. Maisel. op. cit.» pp. 21-26; tables 5, 7, 85 and Appen­
dix B.
21Note, however, that a test made in Cleveland in 1938 showed" that inclusion of builders operating in
the suburbs only, as well as those operating in both the city and the suburbs, did not materially change
the builders' distribution by scale of operations, beoause of the small size of the strictly suburban
builder group. (See "Builders of 1-Family Houses in 72 Cities,” in Monthly Labor Review, September
1940, pp. 732-43.)
22See footnote 17. In addition, see p. 11 and tables 13 and 18 where it is shown that most builders
tended to specialize in either 1-family houses or multifamily structures and that the distribution by
size of operations varied little as between 1-family house builders and all builders.




7
About 95 percent of the builders and individuals took out permits for fewer than
single-family houses each in 1938 in urban places and in 19^0 and 19^1 in 11 defense
areas. These small builders were responsible for 75 percent of the urban houses author­
ized in 1938> and for 56 and
percent, respectively, of the houses in 19*-0 and 19*4-1.
4
In 19*4-9, 95 percent of the builders and individuals started fewer than 10 dwellings each,
but in contrast to the earlier surveys, accounted for only a little over 25 percent of the
1-family house production.

10

The scale of residential building operations was substantially greater in me­
tropolitan than in nonmetropolitan areas in 19*4-9> obviously because of the vast differ­
ence in the markets. The large and fast growing populations of metropolitan areas makes
mass housing developments and large apartment buildings feasible, whereas such operations
would exceed the total demand of small local markets.*
2^
Thus, metropolitan areas claimed more than 80 percent of all the commercially
built private dwelling units started in 19*4-9* but only 55 percent of the professional
builders. There were no large builders at all (lOO or more dwelling units) in the non­
metropolitan places, and the median commercially built dwelling unit begun in 19*4-9 in
these small localities was started by a builder of only 2 to k units. In contrast, the
median unit in metropolitan areas was begun by a builder of 50 to 99 units. In other
words, half the professionally built dwelling units in nonmetropolitan places were built
by builders of fewer than 5 units in 19*4-9* whereas half the dwelling units started in
19*4-9 in metropolitan areas were built by builders of at least 50 units.
Although most of the metropolitan area output ( * - percent) was the work of medi
64
urn and large builders (25 dwelling units or more), most of the residential builders in
these populous centers were small in terms of total scale of operations. A third of the
builders started only 1 house each in metropolitan areas, and another half began only 2 to
9 dwelling units. Using the Maisel classification, 94 percent of all the professional
*builders in metropolitan areas in 19*4-9 were small-scale builders (less than 25 units each)
and they accounted for a little under * - percent of the commercially built dwelling units.
40
The medium-size builders (25-99 units each) were 5 percent of the total in metropolitan
areas and began about 25 percent of the units. The remaining 1 percent of the metropoli­
tan-area builders--the very large-scale producers who began 100 units or more--construeted
about *- percent of all new private housing begun commercially in metropolitan places and
40
for almost 35 percent in the country as a whole.

THE G E N E R A L C O N T R A C T O R
General contractors built on a smaller scale, on the average, than either the
operative builders or the firms that did both general contracting and operative building
in 191*9 . Although there were firms of each kind at every size level, proportionately
fewer general contractors produced on a medium and large scale compared with the others,
and middle- and large-size builders were responsible for a smaller share of the general
contractors ’ output.
Nearly 6 in 10 of the general contractors started only one house in 1
9*4-9* com­
pared with a little over 3 in 10 of the operative builders. Nine in'10 began fewer than
5 dwelling units, and virtually all began fewer than 10. These small contractors2* (less
*
than 10 units each) accounted for about three-fifths of the general contractors’ 1
9*4-9
housing output. In operative building, firms of this size (86 percent of the operative
builders) were responsible for only a fourth of the housing production (tables 3 and 4).

2^See Donald J. Bogue, Population Growth in Standard Metropolitan Areas, 1900-1950, Washington, D* C.,
Housing and Home Finance Agency, December 1953 (p» 13)} ana Maisel, op, cit* (p* 23)«
2**The size designation is in terms of their residential building operations alone, and not in terms of
their operations in building construction as a whole, which may have been extensive*




8
The relatively small size of general contractors* homebuilding activities, how­
ever, was characteristic of their single-family house operations-rather than their apart­
ment building. They built larger apartment projects on the average than either the opera­
tive builders or those who did both operative building and contract work 2^ (p. 11, and
table 5).
The fact that very few general contractors started more than 10 single-family
houses during the year clearly indicates that the widespread practice of building 1 -family
houses to order, house by house, on separate sites limits the volume of production. In
such operations, each owner furnishes the lot and house specifications. Changes are often
ordered by the owner in the course of construction. In addition, the number of custombuilt individual homes that can be built at the same time by a single firm is severely li­
mited by the managerial force required to supervise the numerous details involved. 26 With
the same amount of supervisory personnel the operative builder can initiate and carry
through construction on many more houses at one time than the custom-building general con­
tractor. The construction of a group of operatively built houses can be planned and
scheduled as a unit, because they can be erected at one site, with basically the same de­
sign, and with the entire bill of materials for a project known in advance.
A few general contractors also started medium to large-scale single-family hous­
ing projects in 19*4-9 on a contract basis for others. In such cases, an individual or firm
owned the land, submitted plans, and asked for bids on a project of single-family homes
which they planned to sell or rent. The general contractors who won the contracts per­
formed the service function of building to the owners* order. The promoting groups, many
outside of the industry, quickly liquidated their investment or earned a rental income.
Smaller contract jobs for such promoting firms and individuals were even more common than
the piedium-or large-size projects. Altogether, however, only 3 percent of the general
contractors were engaged in building single-family houses for others to place on the mar­
ket, and the resulting projects constituted less than 10 percent of all the general con­
tractors* output of houses in 19*4-9* Thus, these speculative-type contract-built enter­
prises in 19*4-9 did not affect significantly the scale of 1 -family house operations of gen­
eral contractors. It is clear also that the amount of venture capital used for building
1-family houses in this manner was small. Capital for 1-family housebuilding was obtained
chiefly from the intended occupants and their mortgagors, or the builders themselves.

THE OPERATIVE B U I L D E R

The 1- to 4 - H o u s e O p e r a t i v e B u i l d e r
Although medium and large scale operations were much more characteristic of op­
erative builders than of general contractors, the operative builders* group also included
numerous 1 -house entrepreneurs, and the great majority of operative builders started fewer
than 5 dwelling units in 19*4-9 (table 3)* These very small merchant builders represented a
third of all the professional builders and accounted nationwide for 10 percent of the com­
mercially built private housing production during the year. More of these small enter­
prises were in the metropolitan than in the nonmetropolitan areas, although they accounted
for proportionately more of the builders and output in the smaller places.
How do these small operative builders, especially those building only 1 or 2
houses in the year, make a living? 2? A large proportion of them actually engaged in resi­
dential building only as a side line. 28 The 1- to *t-house builders predominated among

jpSee footnote 9.
2 Maisel found that, even among medium—sized firms in San Francisco, the principals usually had only
one or two assistants in management activities. Op. cit., p. 210. Maisel found also (p. 218) that all
ike San Francisco housebuilding firms surveyed were personally owned and financed.
'See Maisel, op. cit., p. 211. Maisel found that the median San Francisco builder completing 1 to 9
houses in 1949 received a net profit before taxes of about 5.7 percent of sales volume. The profit on
two $18,000 houses at this rate would be about $2,000. Most houses built in 1949 sold for less than

$ , .
12 000

28This is true also of very small scale general contractors.




9
those entrepreneurs who reported that residential building was their subordinate business
in 19^9.
(See table 5») Many were special building trades contractors or journeymen,
lumber dealers, or associated in one way or another with real estate operations, who built
one or a few houses as a speculative venture to supplement their income (table 6). The
low capital requirements for housebuilding, which is financed largely on credit and
through loans secured by the property, is an inducement to many to enter the business as
a brief speculation, particularly in a period of extensive demand as in 19^9* There is no
other major industry in which a group normally outside, accounts for so large and produc­
tive a part.
These small operative builders enter and leave the homebuilding industry in
quick succession, accounting for a sizable share of the high business turnover for which
construction is notable.23 They predominated among the UO percent of the operative build­
?
ing firms that in 19*+9 reported entering the residential building business within the year
(table 7 )On the other hand, many of them probably built housing for their principal sup­
port since, as Maisel found, small builders often receive their income in the form of
wages and not as a return on investment or as profits. The sense of independence derived
from running their own business offsets the low return or, frequently, the lack of return,
on their capital. 30

The O p e r a t i v e B u i l de r in N o n m e t r o p o l i t a n A r e a s
As significant as the comparatively large number of very small operative build­
ers in the metropolitan areas, was the important number of merchant builders of substan­
tial scale in nonmetropolitan places/ remote from the wider and more stable markets of
large centers.
Fifteen percent of tne nonmetropolitan operative builders started at least 5
units during the year. These builders accounted for 25 percent of all the professionally
built private units begun in those relatively small areas, and for 10 percent of all non­
metropolitan private housing starts, including the owner-built. In addition, over 1,000
operative builders began at least 10 dwelling units each in nonmetropolitan places in
19^ 9, accounting for 17 percent of the professionally built housing starts there, and 7
percent of chr total, including the owner-built. Several hundred middle-sized builders
of 25-99 dwel ing units each, accounted for as much as 8 percent of the nonmetropolitan
housing production by commercial builders, and 3 percent started by builders and owners
together (taoles 1, 3> and ^). As recently as 19^ , Miles Colean wrote in American Hous­
ing that "Their (operative builders*) influence...has scarcely been felt in the smaller
nonmetropolitan centers ."^1 The growth of their importance in small localities reflected
the fast growing populations in many small nonmetropolitan places, and the increasing,
even pressing, housing demand there, which resulted from extensive migration during the
19^0 *s away from farms, and from both farms and cities, toward small towns and villages in
the West, and toward decentralized industrial and military installations throughout the
country .^2

29oe© "Recent Business Population Movements," Survey of Current Business, u. S. Department of Commerce,
Vol. 34, No. 1, January 1954 (pp* 11-16), and "Size Characteristics of the Business Population," op.
Cit., Vol. 34, No. 5, May 1954 (pp. 15-24). These articles relate to contract construction only. Al­
though operative building is not classified under "Contract construction," but is classified with "Fi­
nance, insurance, and real estate," in these reports, in accordance with the Bureau of the Budget’s
Standard Industrial Classification, it is believed that entry and discontinuance rates of the operative
builders are similar to those of the construction contractors.
3°Maisel, op. oit., pp. 36-37.
‘31Op. cit., p . 143.
32Some of these places are in urbanized areas, according to the 1950 Census, even though they do not
fall within standard metropolitan areas. See Donald J. Bogue, op. cit., pp. 45-50, for discussion of
Mie relation between urbanized areas and the standard metropolitan areas and their urban fringe, and
>p. 33-44 for comparison of metropolitan and nonmetropolitan growth in geographic divisions.




10

The Medi um- and L a r g e - S c a l e O p e r a t i v e B u i l d e r
There were only a handful, comparatively, of operative builders who started 25
or more dwelling units in 19^9 in the country as a whole (2 ,950)> tut they were important
producers of housing that year. They accounted for two-fifths of the commercially built
private dwelling units started nationally and about half of those begun in metropolitan
areas (tables 3 an& ^).
All of the large merchant builders, and virtually all of medium scale, were in
the metropolitan areas, where a huge backlog of effective demand was swelled by large and
growing markets.33 Many of these operative builders sold their entire project from one
or a few model houses, and whole apartment developments were rented well before comple­
tion.
The largest producers built mostly to meet the single-family housing demand of
middle-income families in the metropolitan areas. This was true also in urbqn places in
1938> when the large operative builders were concentrated in the middle-price housing
field.^ The median price of the 1-family homes started by operative builders of 100 or
more houses in 19^9 was a little over $8,500.
(See table 8 .) For all other size groups
except one-house builders, the median price was $ 9,000 or more. 35
In general, the price distribution of 1 -family houses started by operative
builders of all sizes in 19^9 was indicative of considerable emphasis on the moderate to
low-priced house. Nearly 6 in 10 of the operatively built 1 -familv houses were priced at
less than $10,000, and the median price was $9,200.
(See table 8 .) Prices were, of
course, much higher in metropolitan than in nonmetropolitan areas, where costs and wages
generally are lower and the effective demand is for smaller and less expensive houses
than in larger places. Even in the metropolitan areas, however, the median price was
under $ 10,000 ($9,500), influenced substantially by the moderate prices in mass housing
projects. In 19^9, at least, it was no longer true that new housing was being built
largely for a limited economic group, as it appeared in 19^0, according to the Temporary
National Economic Committee, when conducting its investigations "Toward More Housing."36
In view of the extensive pressure for new housing in the metropolitan areas, it
is surprising that large-scale housebuilding in the moderate-price range was not more
prevalent and did not account for an even greater share of the production.^'
In part,
the answer lies in the relative youth of most firms Sn the residential building industry.
The industry had in effect to be organized anew after almost complete inactivity during
World War II. To illustrate, a third of the operative builders in metropolitan areas in
19^9 had been in the industry less than a year, and nearly 60 percent had been in the in­
dustry only since the close of the war.
(See table 7*) Most of these firms began as
sifcall enterprises. Relatively little time had elapsed before 19^9 in which to build a
large-scale business with the managerial skill and experience and the hundreds of thou­
sands of dollars of working capital that are required.

33See p* 7 •
3^"Builders of 1-Family Houses in 72 Cities," Monthly Labor Review, September 1940, pp* 732-743*
35Maisel*s findings in the San Francisco area study were similar* Op* oit*, p* 28* Selling price in­
cludes the price of land*
^Monograph No. 8 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1940), Part I, pp. xv— xvi. The construction
cost of a typical single-family house a little more than doubled between 1940 and 1949, whereas family
income rose nearly 1-1/2 times. About 45 percent of families in 1949 had wage or salary income of $2,500
to $5,000 and 17 percent had $5,000 or more, compared with 13 peroent and 2 percent, respectively, in
1939. See May 1953 supplement to Construction and Building Materials, p. 32, for historical data on
residential construction costs compiled by E. H. Boeckh and Associates, Washington, D, C, . See also, U*S*
Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Consumer Income: Income of Families and Persons inthe
United States, 1949. Release Series P-60, No. 7, Table 12, p. 27.
There is no satisfactory historical price index for new bouses. Construction cost is used, here in­
stead of a price index* See "Relationships Between an Index of House Prices and Building Costs" by
David M. Blank in Journal of the American Statistical Association, Vol. 49, No. 265, March 1954 (pp. 6778), for a rationalization of the interchangeability of the two.
3/There were 700 large operative builders (100 or more units) in 1949, Only around a third of these
(something over 200) began 250 units or more each— either in single-family housing projects or in apart­
ment projects.




11

BUILDERS W H O C O M B I N E D OP E R A T I V E B U I L D I N G
A N D G E N E R A L C O NT R A C T I N G
The small group of residential builders (6 percent of the professional build­
ers) who interchanged their operations during the year and did both operative building
and general contracting, were found mostly in metropolitan areas. Unlike the firms en­
gaged exclusively in general contracting or operative building in I9V 9, the majority of
them started more than 5 dwelling units in the year. They were predominantly in the upper
range of the small builders (5 to 2k units), and a third of them began at least 10 dwell­
ing units during the year. On the other hand, the output of large builders (100 units or
more) accounted for a much smaller proportion of the units started by these operativegeneral contractor firms than by firms engaged exclusively in operative building.
This group of builders, who built to order some of the time, and at other times
initiated their own projects, appeared to be a substantial and relatively stable type of
firm. Virtually all of them were engaged solely or principally in building construction
in 19* 9* unlike a large proportion of the other residential builders, particularly the
+
small ones who built 1 or 2 houses on the side to supplement their income from a regular
business or job (tables 9 and 10).

A P A R T M E N T BUIL DING
Few builders specialized in apartment building in 19^9> a- d even fewer'started
n
both 1-family houses and apartments. The builders who did apartment building exclusively,
however, accounted for most of the units in apartment structures (72 percent).
(See
tables 13, i^> and 15*) The great majority of the builders (88 percent) specialized in
single-family houses in 19*4-9, reflecting the character of the total private housing output
in which single-family homes predominated k to 1 .
Most of the firms that specialized in putting up multifamily structures (2 or
more units) were operative builders (8C percent). Although over half of these builders
reported residential building as their principal or only business, a rather substantial
group (one-third) reported it as just a side line (table 17)* This suggests that a siz­
able amount of apartment construction was initiated and completed in 19*4-9 by "speculative
sponsors"
rather than by long-term investors.
General contractors started only a fourth of the apartment units begun in 1 *
9 4-9
(as well as a fourth of the 1 -family houses) and constituted only a sixth of the builders
specializing in multifamily construction. However, their apartment projects were larger
on the average than those of the operative builders (table 5 )*
In both instances, however, the average number of units per builder specializing
in multifamily structures, although far more than for the 1-family housebuilders, was less
than 25 . It is not safe to conclude from these small averages, however, that "Even where
'large projects are most characteristic, housebuilding is usually a small-scale business,"^
because, taken by themselves, they are misleading. They were weighted heavily by the
numerous builders who started 2 to k units in multifamily buildings in 19*4-9* These build­
ers were more like the small single-family housebuilders of similar scale. 0 They con­
stituted three-fourths of all the builders who specialized in multifamily structures in
I 9U 9, and their average production was only 2 dwellings in 1 building (table 18).
In contrast, the 8 percent of the firms that specialized in apartment construc­
tion and also started 25 units or more, averaged 1 4 6 units per builder, and accounted for
*three-fourths of the units produced by all the multifamily-structure specialists, and well

3®These are producers and merchandisers of rental housing, whose interest is in the profit from the
construction job and from capital appreciation after building up occupancy and high rent rolls, after
which the project is sold to a permanent investor. See discussion of such operations in Production of
New Housing by Leo Grebler, pp. 118-122.
P Colean, op. cit., p. 77.
°Maisel, in fact, combines all 1- and 2-family housebuilders into a single group, which he defines*
simply as ’housebuilders.”
’




12
over half (5^ percent) of all the multifamily units started by all types of builders
(tables 15 and 19). In addition, three-fourths of all the units started in 5-or-more
family structures were produced by builders of 100 or more units in I9I 9 . Most of them
+
were produced by builders specializing in apartment building. Only a fourth of all the
units in 1 -family and 2-k family houses were the product of large-scale builders (100 or
more units). It appears, therefore, that apartment-house building of the type usually
conceded as such (in structures accomodating more than k households) was at least of medi
urn, and more commonly of large scale in 1 9 ^ 9 Virtually all of it was in the metropoli
tan areas (table l 6) .

S I N G L E - F A M I L Y HOUSE B U I L D I N G
Because 1-family housing predominated so greatly in housing activity during
the structure and scale of operations of the homebuilding industry as a whole tend
to reflect the activities of single-family housebuilders.

19^ 9>

Although no new conclusions come to light, it is worthwhile examining briefly
some facts about 1 -family residential building by itself. For example, the scale of op­
erative builders 1 1 -family house building was relatively much greater than that of the
other builders. Most of the operatively built houses (6 in 10) were the product of firms
that started at least 25 single-family houses in 19^9 (table 20^. When contract-built
houses are added, however, the proportion declines appreciably. 2 The proportion of onefamily houses begun by builders of moderate to large size (25 or more houses) drops fur­
ther, of course, if owner-built homes are added, to around 30 percent. Conversely, the
proportion begun by builders of less than 5 houses rises sharply, from about a fourth to
one-half.
Because of their larger scale operations, operative builders started a much
greater proportion of the commercially built 1 -family houses in 19^9 than the general con­
tractors, even though the latter predominated among residential builders who specialized
in 1 -family-house construction (tables 13 and 15).

S P E C I A L I Z A T I O N IN RE S ID ENT I AL B U I L D I N G
It has been assumed widely that most housing is not built by a special class of
producers, but rather by builders who also construct stores and offices, and other similar
structures, or by firms interested chiefly in such activities as the real estate or lumber
business, or by artisans or the home owners themselves. ^3 Data obtained in this survey
indicate that a large volume of housing was in fact built by owners and artisans and by
firms and individuals not engaged principally in residential building for a livelihood in
19^ 9 * In addition, however, they show that there was a substantial core of specialized
producers of housing that year, which constituted a bona fide residential building indus­
try. Available data suggest that more than half the private 19^9 housing was produced by
homebuilding specialists.

Li Such specialists were found among all types of commercial residential builders.
The large proportion of operative builders who reported residential building as their sole
business in 19A 9 comprised more than a fourth of all the professional builders who started
private housing that year, and produced nearly half of the commercially built dwelling

Large-scale apartment building was stimulated in 1949 as a result of the renewal late in 1948, after
a lapse of several months, of the liberal financing arrangements under wartime Title VI (Sec. 608) of the
National Housing Act. The already liberal provisions of Sec. 608 were further liberalized after the
close of World War II. The 90-percent loan-to-value ratio of the original legislation (1942) had re­
mained the same, but mortgage ceilings were raised after the close of World War II. The appraisal basis
was changed from "reasonable replacement cost" to "necessary current cost," and, in 1948, to cost pre­
vailing on December 31, 1947.
.
1 2 See tables 15 and 19. Scale of operations in single-family house production alojie* is available only
+
for operative builders (table 20) and for builders specializing in single-family housebuilding in 1949
(tables 16, 18, and 19). The 1-family houses started by builders of both 1-family houses and. other types
of units constituted 7 percent of all the 1—family houses started in 1949, and 11 percent of those com­
mercially built.
^3Colean, op. cit. (pp. 63-64).




13
units. To this group may be added many of the general contractors who reported that
building construction (including nonresidential as well as residential building) was their
sole occupation, and most of the builders who shuttled from residential operative building
to general contracting.
(See tables 9 and 10.)

LOCALISM OF RESIDENTIAL B U I L D I N G
Residential builders serve local markets almost exclusively. The house is fixed
to the ground, and the limited managerial staff of firms that build to order precludes
building single houses or apartment projects in widely separated places.
Even large op­
erative builders find it too costly and risky to build in new localities, where the char­
acter of building ordinances, geographic pattern of growth, land assembly problems, and
taste and requirements in housing may be unfamiliar to them.1
^
Detailed analysis of the residential building operations of firms in 2*- metro­
4
politan areas among the sample places studied in the 19*4-9 survey showed that in all but 3
of the places (Boston, Mass.; New Haven, Conn.; and Lancaster, Pa.), less than 2 percent
of the builders operated outside as well as inside their home metropolitan area. Two of
these three places were in New England where densely populated places of relatively small
area are contiguous with one another. Even in those places, however, well over ninetenths of the firms confined their housing activities to the home metropolitan area.
In addition, the amount of outside-area residential building was small. The
figures shown in tables 21 to 26 are based on the number of commercially built dwellings
started within each of 2k selected metropolitan areas. However, even if outside-of-area
homebuilding by the builders in each of the selected metropolitan areas is included, -the
average scale of commercial builders* residential building operations is unchanged for all
areas except Dallas, where the average increases only from 11 to 12. The outside activi­
ties of Dallas builders were located several hundred miles from the home area, thus sug­
gesting a much wider radius for out-of-area operations in the West where populous communi­
ties are more widely separated, than that of firms in the more densely populated Eastern
States whose outside work was in nearby localities.
Broadly speaking, data relating to the 2k metropolitan areas reflect the na­
tional pattern in the structure and scale of operations of the residential building indus­
try in 1 9*- . For example, small firms predominated in most of the areas, but accounted
4
9
for a small proportion of the output; the average number of units begun by operative
builders usually exceeded the average for general contractors; production of operative
builders generally was well above the combined output of all the other commercial build­
ers; and apartment builders had larger-scale operations than the single-family house
builders.
Nevertheless the areas differed widely in many respects. To cite just 2 extreme
examples, the proportion of owner-builders ranged from nearly 3 in 10 in Dallas to over 7
in 10 in Detroit, and the ratio of general contractors to operative builders ranged from
about 1 to 3 in Miami, Tulsa, and Washington, D. C. to almost 3 to 1 in Lancaster. These
and other differences did not appear to be related to population size or geographic loca­
tion of the areas. They reflected the unique configuration of each individual housing
market at the time.^

IMP LI CAT IONS OF THE 1949 S T RUC TU RE
Among the more significant influences that shaped the organization of residen­
tial building operations in 19*±9 was the relation of housing production to population
growth in the preceding two decades. A sharp drop in homebuilding during the depression
30 *s, and again in the wartime *4-0*s, had resulted by 19*-9 in large, accumulated housing
4
needs which required only favorable conditions to be translated into effective demand.

^ S e e Maisel, op. olt. (pp. 216-217), See also Grebler, op. cit. (p. 16), ana Colean, op. cit. (p. 80).
^5 See Chester Rapkin, Louis Winnick, and David M. Blank, Housing Market Analysis: A Study of Theory
aqd^Methods, Washington, D, C, f Housing and Home Finance Agency, December 1953.




Exact figures are not available, but some concept of the extent of the latent pressure on
housing in 19^9 roay t>e had from the fact that abbut 3*3 million more new nonfarm house­
holds1® occupying separate quarters* were formed, compared with the Q.b million new per­
1
4?
manent nonfarm dwelling units supplied, in the two decades from 1930. This already large
potential market for new housing was augmented by married couples living with relatives,
and the returned World War II veterans whose housing requirements were met only to a
limited extent by the recovery in housing production immediately after the war 0 These
forces, together with very high postwar birth rates, high incomes, and easy Government
guaranteed and insured credit, created tremendous housing demands. Consequently, builders
had an assured market in 19^9* They could sell or rent as many dwellings as they could
produce. There were numerous incentives, and little risk for individuals in other lines
of work to take a small flyer in residential building; for individuals or groups to aban­
don a less profitable business and build houses; and for building firms to multiply their
previous scale of operations. Efficient and inefficient alike survived and flourished,
and deficiencies in site selection or house design had little effect on sales and often
went unnoticed, or were disregarded.
This complex of circumstances explains both the numerous small merchant builders
in business that year, as well as the increased number and relatively large output of the
medium and large entrepreneurs. To some extent, it explains also the importance of the
entrepreneurial organization in 19^ 9 Do any of the same influences persist in 195^+ and what changes have occurred in
the residential building operations that might affect the structure of the industry? A n ­
swers to these questions could help suggest the nature of the present organization of the
residential building business, in the absence of precise current statistics.
Many conditions have changed since 19^9* Market pressure has diminished from
the almost explosive force that it was during the immediate postwar years and following
entry into the Korean conflict (19^6-50). Credit has not been as easy since imposition of
Regulation X in October 1950 and the Treasury-Federal Reserve Board accord in March 1951>
and although the hard money policy of early 1953 has since been modified and mortgage
funds are readily available, mortgage interest rates are higher. Construction costs have
risen, and the shift from a seller’s or landlord’s market to a buyer’s or renter’s market
has necessitated active marketing of new housing and the provision of improved housing
values.
These factors conceivably could have the effect of reducing the total number and
proportion of operative builders, because greater competition for a more selective market
would eliminate the marginal entrepreneurs building as a speculative venture. The impact,
however, would be quite variable, falling heaviest on the small operative builders of
single-family houses, especially those producing fewer than 5 houses. The latter would
not be as readily attracted to residential building in the first place, as they were when
marketing was no problem. Moreover, it is unlikely that these small builders will have
sufficient capital to permit a standing inventory of even 1 house. They require quick
turnover to stay in business.
Conversely, the medium- and large-scale operative builders of 1-family houses in
I9I who remained in the industry, and the well-established firms of moderate to large
+9
size who may have entered it since 1950, are likely to be firmly entrenched, and, if they
have not expanded, at least they need not have reduced their operations. This conclusion
is supported by the following considerations.

Includes single-person Households and households consisting of unrelated individuals living together,
as well as new married couples, and other family groups. This figure was derived using BLS estimates of
the number of new nonfarm dwelling units started (see Construction During Five Decades, BLS Bulletin
1146, table 1, p. 3), and unpublished revised estimates obtained from the Bureau of the Census, showing
the number of nonfarm households based on a consistent definition of the urban area, and of the house­
hold.
4?Including trailers and shacks and other temporary facilities, as well as converted units and new
dwellings.




15
First, private housing activity has been maintained at well over the 19^9 lev­
el ,^8 because of continuing extensive demand sustained by a growing and mobile population,
and a prosperous and basically stable economy. In addition, the terms of Governmentassisted financing of owner-occupied housing have continued to favor the middle- ta lowerincome groups and moderate-cost homes,^ for which demand is greatest and which are sup­
plied largely by operative builders. Operative builders also are benefiting from a varie­
ty of advances that have been made in the industry in techniques and management which con­
tribute directly to efficiency. For example, significant strides have occurred in mech­
anization, standardization, and simplification in homebuilding, involving the more exten­
sive use of new materials and prefabricated parts and assemblies.^°
Advances have o c ­
curred also in the design of project houses,to provide greater livability without increas­
ing costs; in community and site planning; and in market analysis and merchandizing.
Product manufacturers, architects, and builders, through their associations and trade
journals, have worked separately and cooperatively toward these ends to expand the housing
market. Assistance has come also from universities, acting independently, or with the
sponsorship of private trade associations, or utilizing research funds provided by the
Federal Government under provisions of the Housing Acts of 19*4-9-52 •
These aids have been more influential in maintaining the mass market of the op­
erative builders than the custom market of the general contractors. General contractors
require the flexibility of individualized operations, and thus cannot take advantage of
the economies of multi-unit scheduling, purchasing, and erection. To be sure, improve­
ments which affect the cost of single units and the level of bids, tend to broaden the
custom market. The total amount of custom building, however, depends a good deal on eco­
nomic conditions and the number and proportion of families in the higher income groups,
which supply the bulk of the demand for contract-built homes. The number and proportion
of such families, as well as the middle-income families, has been i n c r e a s i n g , w h e r e a s
construction costs have not risen commensurately,52 so that a substantial custom market
exists. Operative builders, however, have been effectively competing for this market, as
well as for the middle-priced market. Some of these builders in metropolitan areas have
produced groups of distinctively styled and even elaborately equipped houses which, al­
though utilizing basically the same design, have different exteriors, and are erected on
attractive and well-located sites.
To the extent, then, that there have been organizational changes in the industry
since 19*4-9> it would appear to be in the direction of fewer medium- and large-scale opera­
tive builders who may be producing a larger share of the commercially built single-family
housing. These builders may be accomplishing this mostly at the expense of the very small
operative builders, who, along with marginal firms of all sizes and types, are less likely
to enter the business in the first place than they were in 19*4-9> or, if they do enter, to
remain in the business for long.

Number of new private nonfarm dwelling units started in:
Year

1-f amily
structures

2-family
structures

Multifamily
structures

161,700
1949
34,700
792,400
159,200
42,300
1950
1,150,700
87,500
1951
40,400
892,200
83,500
1952
45,900
939,100
94,000
1953
41,500
932,800
*4?By permitting higher mortgage loan-to-value ratios, the lower the price of the house.
5°See Maisel, op. cit», pp. 49-50* See also, Cost Savings Through Standardization, Simplification,
Specialization in the Building Industry, prepared for Foreign Operations Administration, by the Bureau
of Labor Statistics, December 1953. Mimeo.
5* See U. S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-60; Numbers 7, 9, 12, 15;
Table 1.
52 See footnote 37.







IT
APPENDIX A - S U R V E Y DESIGN
The S a m p l e
The sample of the Survey of Residential Builders was a highly stratified dualstage design in which the primary sampling units were standard metropolitan areas and non­
metropolitan counties.
Stage 1: The metropolitan areas were stratified by geographic region, and,
within regions, into 2 strata, characterized by high and low population increase between
19^0 and 1950. Twenty-nine primary sampling units were selected from the universe of
metropolitan areas* which was arranged to achieve strata of approximately equal size in
terms of nonfarm population. The sample of 18 nonmetropolitan areas was a subsample of
the sample of nonmetropolitan counties, used by the Bureau in its surveys of dwelling units
started in 96 nonpermit-issuing rural nonfarm c o u n t i e s . H o w e v e r , the residential build­
er sample design did not include areas to represent the smallest counties (composed mostly
of farm population, and accounting for 10 percent of the rural nonfarm dwelling units
standing in 19^0 ), which were eliminated before sample selection also from the 96-county
universe.
Stage 2: The final units of sampling in all sample areas were the dwelling
units started by a single builder in sample areas where building permits were not issued,
or, in permit-issuing places,^ the "permit unit." The latter consists of a group of
building permits issued at one time to a single individual or firm. Whenever possible,
permit units issued to identical individuals or firms were combined in advance of sample
selection.55 Dwelling units started and permit units were stratified by type of struc­
ture. Permit units were stratified also by number of dwelling units, and disproportionate
sampling was used to give the larger permit units a greater probability of selection. A p ­
proximately 12,000 elementary sampling units were selected in all primary sampling areas.
There was an intermediate step in the case of the New York metropolitan area, in
which a subsample of minor civil divisions was selected. Before selection, the minor civ­
il divisions were stratified according to number of dwelling units authorized by building
permits in 19^ 9 *

Es ti mat ing Method
Ratio-type estimates were used at the primary sample level. For the metropoli­
tan areas, the ratio was the total characteristic being estimated for sample areas, di­
vided by the number of dwelling units started, or authorized by permits, in the sample
areas. The result was then applied against a known total of dwelling units started or
authorized in all metropolitan areas in 19^9* In the nonmetropolitan areas, the denomina­
tor was nonfarm dwelling units standing in sample places in 19* 0 , and the known total was
+
nonfarm dwelling units standing in all nonmetropolitan counties in 19^0 .
A major problem of estimation occurred at the within-area level because of the
overexposure of some individuals or firms. If a builder obtained building permits at dif­
ferent times under different names, it was not possible to combine his operations in ad­
vance of sample selection. Thus the probability of selection of some builders was greater
than that of others. This was overcome by a system of weighting which took account of all
permit units obtained by the builder during the survey period. This problem of overex­
posure was also encountered between primary areas because some builders operated in more
than one primary sampling unit. A similar technique of weighting was used to adjust for
this additional situation, of possible duplication.

53See "Estimating National Housing Volume," in Monthly Labor Review, October 1947, pp. 410-416.
5**These are places that require permits to build under their local building ordinances.
^Relevant building—permit information (name and address of the builder, the number, of dwelling units
authorized by eaoh permit unit, and a desoriptionvof the projeots involved) was transcribed from build­
ing-permit records in each of the sample building—permit-issuing localities in the 29 sample metropolistan areas, by trained field agents, supervised by personnel permanently employed in each of the 5 BLS
regional offices (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York, and San Franoisco)0




18
Reliability
The sample as a whole was designed to produce a minimum error at a fixed speci­
fied cost. Optimum allocation (to achieve maximum reliability within the cost ceiling)
was used at all stages of selection. Consideration was thereby given to costs of survey
work, to differences in variance between metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, and b e ­
tween minor civil divisions within primary sampling units, and to variation due to size of
builders’ operations.
Unfortunately, curtailment of resources before analytical phases of the work had
progressed beyond the preliminary stages, precluded computation of the sampling error over
the whole range of the results. Analyses of the variances which led to initiation of the
sample design used, however, clearly indicated that neither the large percentages (cer­
tainly those in excess of 10 percent) nor the averages applying to major characteristics
could be affected substantially by sampling variation. Caution should be exercised in us­
ing small percentages, of course, or the averages or figures for small groups. The like­
lihood is that the response error or bias may be of greater consequence than the error due
to sampling variability. There is no way of measuring the former, except that insofar as
the schedule design was adequate and the conduct of the interview survey carefully planned
and supervised, such errors and biases were kept to a minimum.

S u r v e y Method
The survey was conducted by personal interview, using a pretested schedule, by
over 250 field agents trained by construction technicians of the Bureau’s Division of Con­
struction Statistics. Full-time construction analysts assigned to the Bureau’s 5 regional
offices directed operations in the field through a network of supervisory personnel who
were in touch almost daily with the interviewers.
The interviews were made in the spring of 1951, and information was obtained
from about 12,000 builders and owners about their private nonfarm residential building op­
erations in 19^9- The completed schedules were edited and coded in the regional offices
under the immediate direction of the regional construction analysts, who operated under
the guidance of the technicians in Washington. Regional operations at this stage permit­
ted prompt transmittal and correction of schedules in the field, whenever inconsistencies,
errors, or omissions were detected. The schedules were reviewed again in Washington b e ­
fore tabulation.

APP ENDI X B - - G L O S S A R Y
Professional builders.

Also commercial builders.

Those who build for a living or for profit.
Owner-builders.

Also amateur builders or amateurs.

Those who build for other than commercial purposes, without the services of a
general contractor. Any part of the work may be done by special trade contractors; or b y
;
the owner, with or without the help of family members or friends; or by workmen hired by
the owner. Any combination of these methods may be used. The types of owner-builders,
as defined in this study, are described in footnotes 12 and 15, on pages ^ and 5 *
General contractors. Also custom builders.
Those who build housing to order, on someone else’ land and to another’s speci­
s
fications .
Operative builders.

Also merchant builders or entrepreneurs.

Those who build housing on their land to their own specifications, for unidenti­
fied future buyers or renters.



19

A P P E N D I X C--TABLES
1. R e s id e n tia l b u ild e r s and p r iv a te n o n fa rm d w e llin g u n its s ta r te d : D is tr ib u tio n b y type o f
b u ild e r and b y a c tiv ity in m e tr o p o lit a n and n o n m e tro p o lita n a r e a s , 1949
2. R e s id e n tia l b u ild e r s and p r iv a te n o n fa rm d w e llin g u n its s ta r te d :
b u i ld e r s ' o p e r a tio n s , c o m m e r c i a l - and o w n e r -b u ild e r s , 1949

D is trib u tio n b y s iz e o f

3. C o m m e r c ia l r e s id e n t ia l b u ild e r s : D is trib u tio n by type o f b u ild e r , b y s iz e o f o p e r a tio n s ,
and b y a c tiv ity in m e tr o p o lit a n and n o n m e tro p o lita n a r e a s , 1949
4 . P r iv a te n o n fa rm d w e llin g u n its s ta r te d b y c o m m e r c ia l b u ild e r s : D is tr ib u tio n b y typ e o f
b u ild e r , b y s iz e o f o p e r a t io n s , and by a c tiv ity in m e tr o p o lit a n and n o n m e tro p o lita n
a r e a s , 1949
5. A v e r a g e n u m b er o f p r iv a t e d w e llin g u n its s ta r te d p e r c o m m e r c ia l b u ild e r , by type o f
b u ild e r , b y b u i ld e r 's t y p e - o f - s t r u c t u r e s p e c ia liz a t io n and exten t o f a c tiv ity in b u ild in g
c o n s tr u c tio n , in m e tr o p o lit a n and n o n m e tro p o lita n a r e a s , 1949
6. P e r c e n t d is tr ib u tio n o f f ir m s that d id not d e r iv e th e ir in c o m e s o le ly as o p e r a tiv e r e s i ­
d en tia l b u ild e r s o r as g e n e r a l c o n t r a c t o r s , b y type o f s u p p le m e n ta ry b u s in e s s o r o c c u ­
p a tio n , 1949
7. P e r c e n t d is tr ib u tio n o f o p e r a tiv e b u ild e r s in 1949, b y y e a r o f e n try into o p e r a tiv e r e s i ­
d en tia l b u ild in g , in m e tr o p o lit a n and n o n m e tr o p o lita n a r e a s
8. P r iv a te 1 -fa m ily h o u s e s s ta r te d by o p e r a t iv e - and o w n e r -b u ild e r s : D is trib u tio n b y p r i c e
c l a s s , b y a c tiv ity in m e tr o p o lit a n and n o n m e tr o p o lita n a r e a s , and b y s iz e o f o p e r a t iv e b u ild e r s ' 1 -fa m ily h ou se o p e r a t io n s , 1949
9. C o m m e r c ia l r e s id e n t ia l b u ild e r s : D is tr ib u tio n by type o f b u ild e r , b y e xten t o f a ctiv ity in
b u ild in g c o n s t r u c t io n , in m e tr o p o lit a n and n o n m e tro p o lita n a r e a s , 1949
10. P r iv a te n o n fa rm d w ellin g un its s ta r te d b y c o m m e r c ia l b u ild e r s : D is tr ib u tio n b y type o f
b u ild e r , b y exten t o f b u ild e r s ' a c tiv ity in b u ild in g c o n s t r u c t io n , in m e tr o p o lit a n and
n o n m e tro p o lita n a r e a s , 1949
11. C o m m e r c ia l r e s id e n t ia l b u ild e r s : D is tr ib u tio n b y s iz e o f o p e r a t io n s , b y exten t o f a c t iv i­
ty in b u ild in g c o n s t r u c t io n , in m e tr o p o lit a n and n o n m e tr o p o lita n a r e a s , 1949
12. P r iv a te n o n fa rm d w e llin g un its s ta r te d b y c o m m e r c ia l b u ild e r s : D is trib u tio n b y s iz e o f
o p e r a t io n s , b y exten t o f b u ild e r s ' a c tiv ity in b u ild in g c o n s t r u c t io n , in m e tr o p o lit a n and
n o n m e tro p o lita n a r e a s , 1949
13. C o m m e r c ia l r e s id e n tia l b u ild e r s : D is trib u tio n b y typte o f b u ild e r , by b u ild e r s ' t y p e - o f s tr u c tu r e , s p e c ia liz a t io n , and b y a c tiv ity in m e tr o p o lit a n and n o n m e tro p o lita n a r e a s ,
1949
14. P r iv a te n o n fa rm d w e llin g un its s ta r te d b y c o m m e r c ia l b u ild e r s : D is trib u tio n b y b u ild ­
e r s t y p e - o f - s t r u c t u r e , s p e c ia liz a t io n , and b y a c tiv ity in m e tr o p o lit a n and n o n m e tr o ­
p o lita n a r e a s , 1949
15. P r iv a te n o n fa rm d w e llin g u n its s ta r te d by c o m m e r c ia l b u ild e r s : D is trib u tio n by type o f
b u ild e r , b y a c tiv ity in m e tr o p o lit a n and n o n m e tro p o lita n a r e a s , and b y type o f s tr u c tu r e ,
1949
16. P r iv a te n o n fa rm d w ellin g units s ta r te d b y c o m m e r c ia l b u ild e r s : D is trib u tio n b y s iz e o f
o p e r a t io n s , b y type o f s tr u c tu r e , and b y a c tiv ity in m e tr o p o lit a n and n o n m e tro p o lita n
a r e a s , 1949




20
a ppen d ix

c --Tables

17. C o m m e r c ia l r e s id e n tia l b u ild e r s : D is trib u tio n by b u i l d e r s ’ t y p e - o f - s t r u c t u r e s p e c ia li z a ­
tio n , b y exten t o f a ctiv ity in b u ild in g c o n s t r u c t io n , by type o f b u ild e r , and b y m e t r o p o l­
itan and n o n m e tro p o lita n a r e a s , 1949
18. C o m m e r c ia l r e s id e n tia l b u ild e r s : D is trib u tio n and a v e r a g e n u m b e r o f u n its s ta r te d p e r
b u ild e r , b y s iz e o f o p e r a tio n s , b y type o f r e s id e n tia l s tr u c tu r e s s ta r te d , and by a c t iv i­
ty in m e tr o p o lit a n and n o n m e tro p o lita n a r e a s , 1949
19. P r iv a te n o n fa rm d w e llin g units s ta r te d b y c o m m e r c ia l b u ild e r s : D is trib u tio n b y s iz e o f
o p e r a tio n s , b y b u i ld e r s ' t y p e - o f - s t r u c t u r e s p e c ia liz a t io n , and by a ctiv ity in m e t r o p o l­
itan and n o n m e tro p o lita n a r e a s , 1949
20. P r iv a te 1 -fa m ily h o u s e s s ta r te d by o p e r a tiv e b u ild e r s : D is trib u tio n by s iz e o f o p e r a tiv e
b u ild e r s ' 1 -fa m ily h ou se o p e r a t io n s , in m e tr o p o lit a n and n o n m e tr o p o lita n a r e a s , 1949
21. N u m ber o f r e s id e n t ia l b u ild e r s :
p o lita n a r e a s , 1949

P e r c e n t d is tr ib u tio n b y type o f b u ild e r , s e le c t e d m e t r o ­

22. N u m ber o f p r iv a te n o n fa rm d w e llin g u n its s ta r te d :
e r , s e le c t e d m e tr o p o lit a n a r e a s , 1949

P e r c e n t d is tr ib u tio n b y type o f b u ild ­

23. C o m m e r c ia l r e s id e n t ia l b u ild e r s and p r iv a te n o n fa rm d w e llin g u n its s ta r te d : c P e r c e n t
d is tr ib u tio n b y s iz e o f b u ild e r s ' o p e r a t io n s , s e le c t e d m e tr o p o lit a n a r e a s , 1949
24. C o m m e r c ia l r e s id e n tia l b u ild e r s and p r iv a t e n o n fa rm d w e llin g u n its s ta r te d : P e r c e n t
d is tr ib u tio n b y type o f b u ild e r and by b u i ld e r s ' t y p e - o f - s t r u c t u r e s p e c ia liz a t io n , s e l e c ­
ted m e tr o p o lit a n a r e a s , 1949
25. A v e r a g e n u m b er o f d w e llin g units p e r b u ild e r ,, b y type o f b u ild e r and by b u i ld e r s ' t y p e o f -s t r u c t u r e s p e c ia liz a t io n , s e le c t e d m e tr o p o lit a n a r e a s , 1949
26. C o m m e r c ia lly b u ilt p r iv a te n o n fa rm d w e llin g u n its:
P e r c e n t d is tr ib u tio n by type
s tr u c tu r e and b y type o f b u ild e r , s e le c t e d m e tr o p o lit a n a r e a s , 1949




of

21

Table 1.— Residential builders and private nonfarm dwelling units started:
Distribution by type of builder and by activity in metropolitan
and nonmetropolitan areas, 1949
Total,
United States
Percent
Number
distri­
bution

Type of builder

Metropolitan
areas
Percent
Number distri­
bution

Nonmetropolitan
areas
Percent
Number
distri­
bution

Percent in-Total
United
States

Metro­
politan
areas

Nonmetro­
politan
areas

100
100
100
100

42
55
59
49

58
45
41
51

100
100
100

73
36
74

27
64

Residential builders
All types of builders..
Commercial builders...
Operative builders...
General contractors..
Operative buildersgeneral contractors
Owner builders ......
Unknown .............

387,800
109,800
48,800
54,000

7,000
266,800
11,200

100
28
12
14

2
69
3

16 k, 600

100

223,200

60,100
28,800
26,200

37

^9,700

100
22

18
16

20,000
27,800

12

5,100
96,200
8,300

3
58
5

1,900
170,600
2,900

9

1
76

1

26

Private nonfarm dwelling units started
All types of builders..
Commercial builders...
Operative builders...
General contractors.
.
Operative buildersgeneral contractors
Operative operations
Contract operations.
Owner builders ......
Unknown .............

988,800
698,200

100
71

440,900

45

171,700

17

85,600
51,100

9
5

34,500

k

270,600
20,000

27

2

692,900

295,900

100
41

55

120,600
60,400

18

48,800

577,600

100
8k

380,500
122,900
Ik,200

11

11,400

4

44,800
29,400

7

6,300
5,100

2
2

172,400

58

2,900

1

98,200
17,100

k
Ik
2

20
16

100
100
100
100

70
83

100
100
100
100
100

86

30
17
14

72

28

87

13

88

12

85
36
85

15
64
15

Percent distribution may not add to 100 because of rounding.

Table 2.--Residential builders and private nonfarm dwelling units started:
Distribution by size of builders* operations, commercial- and
owner-builders, 1949
Size of operations'
All types of
(dwelling units
builders
started in 1949)

Number
Commercial
builders

Owner
builders

Percent distribution
Commercial
All types of
Owner
builders
builders
builders

Residential builders
Total ..............
1 unit ...........
2-4 units ........
5-9 units ........
10-24 units ......
25-49 units ......
50-99 units ......
100 or more units..

* 387,800
310,750
42,850
11,950

6,900
2,000
1,250
900

109,800

266,800

46,500
40,550

264,250

11,700
6,900
2,000
1,250
900

2,300
()
1
0
0
0
0

100
82
11

100

100

42
37

3

11
6
2
1
1

99
l
(2)

2
1

()
2
(2)

0
0
0
0

Private nonfarm dwelling units started
Total ..............
1 unit ...........
2-4 units ........
5-9 units .... .
10-24 units ......
25-49 units ......
50-99 units ......
100 or more units..

**988,800
310,750
112,750
71,850
95,050
67,350
75,100
235,950

698,200

270,600

100

100

46,500

264,250
(l)
(1)

32

7
15

107,850
70,400
95,050
67,350
75,100
235,950

0
0
0
0

See footnotes on p. 3b .
* Includes 11,200 builders who could not be identified by type.
** Includes 20,000 units started by unidentified types of builders.




12
7

10

10

14

7

8

10
11

24

34

100
98
()
2
(2)
0
0
0
0

22

Table 3«— Commercial residential builders: Distribution by type of builder,
by size of operations, and by activity in metropolitan and
nonmetropolitan areas, 19k 9
Size of operations
Number of builders
(dwelling units
Total,
Metropolitan Nonmetropolitan
areas
areas
United States
started in 19^9)

Percent distribution
Total,
Metropolitan Nonmetropolitan
United States
areas
areas

All commercial builders
Total........ .
1 unit..........
2 -k units...... .
5-9 units.......
10-2k units.....
25 -k9 units.....
50-99 units.....
100 or more units

109,800
k6 ,500
to, 550
11,700

60,100

k9,700

20,k00

26,100

22,850
7,600

17,700
k,100

6,900

5,350

1,550

2,000

1,850

1,250

1,150

(1
)
()
1

900

900

0

100
k2
37
11
6
2
1
1

100
3k
38
13
9
3
2
1

100
53
36
8
3
(2)
(2)
0

100
27
kl
12
10
k
3
2

100
k3
k2
9
5
(2)
(2)
0

100
k8
35
11
5
(2)
(2)
(2)

100

100

100
0
(2)

Operative builders
Total.............
1 unit..........
2-k units.......
5-9 units.......
10-2k units.....
25 -k9 units.....
50-9ST units.....
100 or more units

to, 800

28,800

20,000

16,500
20,050

7,900
11,750
3,550
2,950
1,150

8,600
8,300

5,k50
3,850
1,350
900
700

800
700

1,900
900
(l
)
(1)
0

100
3k
kl
11
8
3
2
1

General contractors
Total.............
1 unit..........
2-k units.......
5-9 units.......
10-2k units.....
25-k9 units.....
50-99 units......
100 or more units

5k , 000
30,000
18,150
3,900
l,k50
(1)
()
i
(1)

26,200
12,500

27,800
17,500

9,150

9,000

2,800
1,250

1,100
()
1
(1)
0
0

()
l
()
1
()
1

100
56
3k
7
3
()
2
()
2
(2)

63
32
k
(2)
()
2
0
0

Operative builders-general contractors
Total.......... .
1 unit..........
2-k units........
5-9 units.......
10-2k unit8 .....
25 -k9 units.....
50-99 units.....
100 or more units

7,000
0
2,350
2,350

1,600
()
1
()
1
()
1

See footnotes on p. 38 .




5,100
0

1,900

1,950
1,250

()
1
1,100
()
1
(}
1
0
0

1,200
()
1
()
1
()
1

0

100
0
3k
3k
23
(2)
(2)
(2)

0

38
25
2k
(2)
(2
)
()
2

58
(2)
(2
)
0
0

23

Table

k

.— Private nonfarm dwelling units started by commercial builders:
Distribution b y type of builder, by size of operations, and by
activity in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, 19*+9

Size of operations
Number of private nonfarm dwelling units
Percent distribution
Metropolitan Nonmetropoli tan
(dwelling units
Total,
Total,
Metropolitan Nonmetropolitan
United States
areas
areas
United States
areas
started in 19^ 9 )
areas
Units started by all commercial builders
Total.............
1 unit..........
2-1+ units.......
5-9 units.......
10-21+ units.....
25-^9 units......
50-99 units.....
100 or more units

698,200
1 6,500
+
107,850

577,600
20,1+00

67,350

60,550
1 9 ,1+00
+
78,450
61,350

75,100
235,950

71,500
235,950

70,1+00
95,050

120,600
26,100
47,300
21,000

16,600
6,000

3,600
0

100
7
15
10
l+
l
10
11
3^

100

100

1
+
10
9
1+
1
11
12
11
+

22
39
17
l+
l
5
3
0

100
2
8
6
11
11
l+
i
18
+

100
l+
l
36

100
10
20
1+
1
1+
1
5
8
29

100

Units started by operative builders
Total...... ......
1 unit....... .
2-1+ units.......
5-9 units.......
10-21+ units.....
25-1+9 units.....
50-99 units.....
100 or more units

1+1+0,900

380,500

16,500
52,550
33,250

7,900

54,350
46,550
55,800

181,900

30,700
23,^50
^3,350
11,000
+

52,200
181,900

60,1+00
8,600
21,850
9,800
11,000

5,550
3,600
0

100
1
+
12
8
12
11
13
11
+

16
18
9
6
0

Units started by general contractors
Total.............
1 unit..........
2-1+ units.......
5-9 units.......
10-21+ units.....
25 -1+9 units.....
50-99 units.....
100 or more units

17i ; 700
30,000
1+6,200
2l+,550
18,750

6,700

122,900
12,500
2l
+,250
17,750

16,650
6,250

9,700

9,700

35,800

35,800

18,800
+
17,500
21,950
6,800
(1
)
(1)
0
0

100
17
27
l+
l
11
1
+
6

21

36
^5

Ik
()
2
(2)
0
0

Units started by operative builders-general contractors
Total.............
1 unit..........
2-1+ units.......
5-9 units.......
10-21+ units.....
25-1+9 units.....
50-99 units.....
100 or more units

85,600
0
9,100
12,600
21,950

Ik,100
9,600
18,250

See footnotes on p. 38 .




7l+,200
0

5,600
8,200
18,1+50

l+10
l,0
9,600
18,250

11,1+00
0
(1
)
l+,l+00
(1)
()
1
()
1
0

100
0
11

100
0
8
11

100
0

26
16

25

21

13
25

()
2
()
2
()
2

15

11

19

()
2
39

0

24

Table

5 .—

Average number of private dwelling units started per commercial builder, by type of builder,
by builder’s type-of-structure specialization and extent of activity in building construc­
tion, in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, 1949

Average number of dwelling units started per builder
Total,
Metropolitan
Nonmetropolitan
areas
United States
areas

Item
All commercial builders..............................
Operative builders.................................
General contractors.................................
Operative builders-general contractors ♦............

6
9
3
12

10
13
5
15

2
3
2
6

Builders of 1-family houses only..................
Operative builders.................................
General contractors.................................
Operative builders-general contractors ..... ......
Builders of 1-family and multifamily structures.......
Operative builders......................... .......
General contractors................................
Operative builders-general contractors •.. >........
Builders of multifamily structures only...............
Operative builders.................................
General contractors....... .......... ..............
Operative builders-general contractors ............

5
7
2
10
24
36
13

7
11
3
11
28
39
15
28

2
3
2
5
7
()
1
()
1
()
1
5
5
(i)
(i)

2k

15
13
21
(1 )

18
17
22
(1 )

k

11
17
5

2

12

Ik

6

8
10

Builders having building construction3 as sole business
Operative builders.................................
General contractors.................................
Operative builders-general contractors ...... .
Builders having building construction3 as principal
business.............. ................
Operative builders.................................
General contractors................................
Operative builders-general contractors ............
Builders having building construction3 as subordinate
business..............................
Operative builders.... .............................
General contractors........... .....................
Operative builders-general contractors ............

12

16

3
3
2
()
i

7
11

k

18
2
3
2
9

3
k

6
21

2
2
2
(1 )

3
k
2

(l)

See footnotes on p.38 •

Table 6.— Percent distribution of firms that did not derive their income solely
as operative residential builders or as general contractors, by type
of supplementary business or occupation, 1949
Total,
United States

All types..........................................

100

100

100

Special trades contracting.........................
Carpentry.......................................
Masonry.......................... . .............
Other.......................................... .
Building materials dealers*........................
Real estate and land development...................
Farming**........................................ Others***........................................ .
Unknown.......................................... .

42
33

43
32
5
6
7
15
1

41
36
2
3
14
3
13
15
14

k
5
10
9
7
19
13

Metropolitan
areas

Nonmetropolitan
areas

Business or occupation

23
11

* Mostly lumber dealers. ** Represents persons whose chief occupation w a s ,
farming, but who produced
nonfarm housing in 1949 . *** Includes a wide range of activities, none of which was significant enough
numerically to classify separately, such ass architecture, insurance, officials or employees in retail
trade and manufacturing, medicine, the ministry, resort or theater operation, and a number of others.




25

Table 7»— Percent distribution of operative builders in I9I , by year of entry into
+9
operative residential building, in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas
Total,
United States

Year
B e f o r e I9 3 O ....................................

10
12
18
8
22
1*0
12

Before 1 9 3 5 . . . ....................................................................

.
.................................................
.............................................................
I9I4.6-U 8 ........................................ ............................. ...........

B e fo r e

1 Qi+O .......................

I9I4.Q............................................ .............................................
Unknow n , T t 11- - -«t T •- •*•-1- - ■ - <- •- - *..............

Nonme tropoli tan
areas

Metropolitan
areas
12
1I421
10
26

7

9
Ik

1
+
16

33

51

10

15

Table 8.— Private 1-j.amily houses started by operative- and owner-builders: Distribution
by price class, by activity in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, and by
size of operative-builders * 1-family-house operations, 19^9
Percent of houses in specified pricedclass—
$15,000
$ 6,000 $7,500- $10 ,000 Under
or more
$6,000
7,1*99
9,999
ii*,999

Item

All price
classes

All operative-builders.....
In metropolitan areas....
In nonmetropolitan areas..

100
100
100

6
2
39

16
Ik

36
38

33

16

100
100
100
100
100
100
100

28

()
2

20
11

Ik
13
9
15
17
21

Size of operations
(1-family houses started
In 19U9)
1 house................
2-b houses.............
5-9 houses...... ......
10-21+ houses..... .....
25 -1+9 houses...........
50-99 houses...........
100-21+9 houses.........
250 or more houses.....
All owner-builders.........
In metropolitan areas....
In nonmetropolitan areas.
.

100
100
100
100

()
2
()
2
()
2
()
2
()
2

23

28

6

11

7

39

6

Unknown

27
30
9

7
8

7
8

()
2

()
2

()
2

27

()
2

()
2

19

2k

2k

30
33
35

13
12
13

10
10
11

30

3k
18
+
51
39

28

11
12
10

19
23
17

19

21

Median
price
$9,200
9,500
6,1+00

8,800
9,000
9,700
10,200

()
2
()
2
()
2
()
2

()
2
()
2
()
2
10

17
25

22

19

8,900
11,600

16

6,700

12

9,600
9,100

8,700
8,600

See footnotes on p. 38 .

Table 9.— Commercial residential builders: Distribution by type of builder, by extent of activity
in building construction, in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, 19^9

Type of builder

All commercial builders....................
Operative builders.......................
General contractors..... ................
Operative builders-general contractors;...

Number of
builders

109,800
18,800
+
5*+,000
7,000

Percent of builders having building
construction's —

Percent for
whom extent
of building
Principal
Subordinate
Sole
activity was
business
business
business
unknown
Total, United States
66

62
68

81

9
9
9
11

20
25

18

1
+
1
+
1
+

()
2

()
2

18
2+
1
l+
l

5
5
5

()
2

()
2

Metropolitan areas
All commercial builders....................
Operative builders.......................
General contractors......................
Operative builders-general contractors....

60,100

67

28,800

62

26,200

70
78

5,100

10
9
11
12

Nonmetropolitan areas
All commercial builders....................
Operative builders.......................
General contractors......................
Operative builders-general contractors;...
See footnotes on p. 38 .




1+9,700
20,000
27,800

1,900

66

62
67
89

9
10
8

26
22

2
2
3

()
2

()
2

(}
2

23

26

Table 10.— Private nonfarm dwelling unite started by commercial builders: Distribution
b y type of builder, b y extent of builders* activity in building construction,
in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, 19^9

Type of builder

Number of
dwelling
units

Percent of dwelling units started
by builders having building
construction-^ as—
Sole
business

Principal
business

Subordinate
business

Percent of
units for
which extent
of builders'
activity
was unknown

Total, United States
All commercial builders....................
Operative builders.......................
General contractors......................
Operative builders-general contractors....

698,200
1440,900
171,700

All commercial builders...... ......... .
Operative builders.............. ........
General contractors................... .
Operative builders-general contractors....

577,600
380,500
122,900

85,600

12
11
12

78
78
76
78

8
8
9
6

16

2
3
3
(2)

Metropolitan areas

74,200

12
11
I4
I

79

80
78
77

6
6
5
5

18

3
3
3
(2)

Nonmetropolitan areas
All commercial builders....................
Operative builders....... ...............
General contractors......................
Operative builders -general contractors....

120,600
60,14-00
148,800
11,1400

16

9
11
7

73
73
71
85

15
20

(2)

(2)
(2)
(2)

0

(2)

See footnotes on p. 38 .

Table 11.— Commercial residential builders: Distribution by size of operations, by extent
of activity in building construction, in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, 19^9

Size of operations
(dwelling units started in 19^9 )

Number of
builders

Total.....................................
1 unit..................................
2-1+ units.............................. .
5-9 units...............................
IO-2 I units.............................
4
25 - 49 units.............................
I
50-99 units..............................
100 or more units........................

109,800

Total.....................................
1 unit..................................
2-14 units...............................
5-9 units................................
IO-2I units.............................
4
25-149 units.............................
50-99 units......... ....................
100 or more units........................

Percent of builders haying building
construction5 as-Sole
business

Principal
business

Subordinate
business

Percent for
whom extent
of building
activity
was unknown

Total, United States
66
61
6+
1
85
71+

9
8
11
6
l+
i

20
27
20
6
10

2,000

81

1,250
900

85
80

(2)
(2)
(2)

(2)
(2)
(2)

60,100

67
62

146,500
1+0,550
11,700

6,900

1
+
1
+
5
(2)
( 2)
( 2)
( 2)
( 2)

Metropolitan areas
20,1+00

22,850
7,600

10

62

900

79
79
79
8+
1
80

1+9,700

66

26,100

60

17,700
i+,100
1,550
()
5
()
5
0

67
97
56

5,350

1,850
1,150

18
26
20 .
8

(2)
( 2)
(2)

5
1
+
7
()
*

(2)
(2)
(2)
( 2)

8
11
9
11

( 2)
( 2)
( 2)
( 2)

Nonmetropolitan areas
Total.....................................
1 unit..................................
2-1+ units...............................
5-9 units...............................
10-214 units.............................
25-^-9 units..........................
50-99 units.............................
100 or more units.......................
See footnotes on p.38 .




1

10
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)

(2)
(2 )

0

9
8

,

0

23
29
20
( 2)

()
?
( 2)
( 2)

0

2
3
(2)
( 2)
( 2)
( 2)
(2)

0

27

Table 12.--Private nonfarm dwelling units started by commercial builders: Distribution
b y size of operations, by extent of builders' activity in building construction,
in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, 19^9

Size of operations
(dwelling units started
in 19M-9)

Number of
dwelling
units

Percent of dwelling units started by builders
having.
building construction ^ as-Principal
business

Sole
business

Subordinate
business

Percent of
units for which
extent of
builders' ac­
tivity was
unknown

Total, United States
Total............... .......
1 unit....................
2 - f units......... .......
i
5-9 units.................
l0 -2i units...............
f
25-^9 units...............
........
50-99 units...... ..
100 or more units.........

698,200
i 6,500
f
107,850
70 , f
i 00
95,050
67,350
75,100
235,950

78
60
69

85

7
()
2
(«
)

(2)
3
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)

2

2

6
26
17
7
7
(2)
( 2)

3
(2)
(2)
()
2
( 2)
( 2)
( 2)

2

2

16

(2)
(2)
(2)

7

76

Ik
12
10
Ik

81
85
82

2

8
28
18
6

12
8
10

Metropolitan areas
Total...... . ....... .......
1 unit....................
2 - f units.................
i
5-9 units.................
10 -2 *- units........ ......
4
25- f9 units...............
i
50-99 units...............
100 or more units.........

577,600

79

12

20,400
60,550
49,400
78,450
61,350
71,500
235,950

62

(2)

67

11
10

80

11

79
79
8*
f

Ik
10
Ik

82

Nonmetropolitan areas
Total....... ...............
1 unit....................
2 - k units.................
5-9 units.................
10 -2 units.......... .
25 - +9 units...............
J
50-99 units...............
100 or more units.........

120,600
26,100

73

60

9
(2)

V7,300

71
96
57

10

18

(2)
25

(2)
(2)

21,000
16,600
6,000
3,600
0

29

(2)

(2)

0
0
0

0
0
0

0
0
0

100
100
0

See footnotes on p. 38 ..
Ta l ; 13.
be
--Commercial residential builders: Distribution by type of builder, by builders* typeof-structure specialization, and by activity in metropolitan and ndnmetropolitan areas, 19^9
All
Type of builder

bnl1dera

Number I Percent
All commercial builders.
.
Operative builders...
General contractors. .
..
Operative buildersgeneral contractors.
.

Residential builders starting—
1-family
1-family and multiMultifamily
houses only
family structures
structures only
Number | Percent Number | Percent Number l Percent
Total, United States

109,800
I8,800
f
5*f,000

100
100
100

9 6 ,6 5 0
i0,150
f
5 0 ,7 5 0

7,000

100

5 ,7 5 0

88
82
9*
f

M 50
1 ,5 5 0
1,700

82

1,200

8,700
7,100
1 ,5 5 0

8
15
3

()
1

()
2

6,500
5,000
1 ,^ 5 0

17
6

18

()
1

()
2

2

2,200
2,100
()
1

i
f
10

()
1

()
2

i
f
3
3
17

Metropolitan areas
All commercial builders.
.
Operative builders...
General contractors. .
..
Operative buildersgeneral contractors.
.

60,100
28,800
26,200

100
100
100

49,950
2 2 ,4 0 0
2 3 ,4 0 0

5,100

100

4 ,1 5 0

A13 commercial builders.
.
Operative builders...
General contractors. .
..
Operative buildersgeneral contractors.
.

i 9 ,7 0 0
f
20,000
27,800

100
100
100

i 6,700
f
1 7 ,7 5 0
2 7 ,3 5 0

9*
i
89
98

()
1

()
2
()
2

1,900

100

1,600

8f
i

()
1

()
2

See footnotes on p. 38.




83
78
89

3 ,6 5 0
l,if00
1 ,3 5 0

81
900
NonmetroiDolitan areas
800

()
1

6
5
5

11

()
2

28

Table ll+.— Private nonfarm dwelling units started by commercial builders:
Distribution by builders* type-of-structure specialization,
and by activity in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, 19^9

Type of builder

Total
number
All commercial builders..
Operative builders....
General contractors....
Operative buildersgeneral contractors

Dwelling units started by builders of-Multifamily
1 -family and multifamily structures
structures only
only
Total
Total
Total
Percent
Percent
Percent
number
number
number
Total, United States

All dwelling
units started

1 -family houses

Percent

18
21

85,600

100

55,100

15
13
13

127,200

55,700
22 ,1+00

28 ,1+00

33

(1)

(2)

100,750
55,150
20,1+50

17
15
17

117,050
83,150
31,850

20
22
26

63

1 6 + 500
+1,
292,150
117,250

106,500

66
68

57

100
100
100

67

61+

698,200
110,900
++
171,700

25,150

3^

u)

(2)

10,150

8
16

93,050
32,050

19

Metropolitan areas
All commercial builders..
Operative builders....
General contractors....
Operative buildersgeneral contractors

577,600
380,500
122,900

100
100
100

359,800

62

21+
2,200
70,600

61+

74,200

100

1 7,000
+

Nonmetrojjolitan areas
All commercial builders..
Operative builders....
General contractors....
Operative buildersgeneral contractors

120,600
60,1+00
18,800
+

100
100
100

104,700
49,950
46 ,630

87
83
96

5,750
(i)
(1)

5
(2)
(2)

11 ,1+00

100

8,100

71

(1)

(2)

9,900
SCI)

(2)

( 1)

(2)

See footnotes on p . 38.

Table 15.— Private nonfarm dwelling units started by commercial builders:
Distribution by type of builder, by activity in metropolitan
and nonmetropolitan areas, and by type of structure, 19I
+9

Type of builder

Total, United States
Metropolitan areas
Nonmetropolitan areas
Number of
Percent
Number of Percent Percent Number of Percent
Percent
dwelling
dwelling distri­ of total Iwelling distri­ of total
distribution
bution
units
units
U. S.
bution
units
U. S.
All dwelling units

698,200

100

577,600

1+1+0,900

171,700

63
25

380,500
122,900

85,600

12

All commercial builders..
Operative builders....
General contractors....
Operative buildersgeneral contractors

520,850
324,900
125,550

100
62
21+

70,400

11+

All commercial builders..
Operative builders....
General contractors....
Operative buildersgeneral contractors

57,900
37,100
l +,800
l

100
6+
1

6,000

10

All commercial builders..
Operative builders....
General contractors....
Operative buildersgeneral contractors

119,^50

All commercial builders..
Operative builders.....
General contractors....
Operative buildersgeneral contractors

See footnotes on p . 38.




100
66
21

120,600
60,1+00
18,800
+

100
50

17
11+

1+0

28

11 ,1+00

10

13

107,600
50,200
1 7,800
+

100

21

^7
11
++

15
38

60,800
86
15
2 -1 family structures
+

9,600

9

lb

46,100

100

80

26,900
13,800

58
30

73
93

11,800
10,200

100
86

20
27

(l)

(2)

(2)

5,400
12
90
( 1)
5 -or-more-family structures

(2)

(2)

118,250

100

99

100

78,900
31,350

67

31,350

100
66
26

26

100
100

9,200

8

8,000

7

87

78,900

26

83

86
72

7l
+,200
13
87
1 -family houses
413,250
274,700
77,750

100
67
19

79
85

62

(l)
()
1
()
1

(2)
( 2)

( 2)
( 2)
( 2)

(1)

( 2)

(*)

29

Table l6.--Private nonfarm dwelling units started by commercial builders:
Distribution by size of operations, by type of structure, and
by activity in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, 19*+9

Size of operations
(dwelling units
started in ±9k^)

Total................
1 unit.............
2 -1 units..........
+
5-9 units..........
10 -21+ units........
25-49 units........
50-99 units........
100-21+9 units......
250 or more units...

All dwelling
units started
Number

Percent
distri­
bution

698,200

100

46,500

7
15

107,850
70,1+00
95,050
67,350

75,100
95,350

11+
0,600

10
11+
10
11
Ik
20

Dwelling units in-2 -1
+-family
houses
structures
Percent
Percent
Number
distri­
Number
distri­
bution
bution
Total, United States

1 -family

520,850
1 6,500
+
89,100
62,700
76,450

100

57,900

9
17

0

51,500
64,950

10
12
12

67,500

13

62,150

12
15

18,750

5,000
7,600
8,850
() 1

8,900
6,250

100
0
32
9
13
15
()
3
15

11

5 -or-more family
structures
Percent
Number
distri­
bution
119,1+50

0
0

()
1
11,000
7,000
10 ,1+00
21,500
66,850

100
0
0
()
2
9

6
9

18
56

Metropolitan areas
Total................
1 unit.............
2 -1 units..........
+
5-9 units........ ..
10 -21+ units........
25-1+9 units........
50-99 units........
100-21+9 units......
250 or more units...

577,600
20 ,1+00
60,550
1 9 ,1+00
+
78,1+50
61,350

71,500
95,350

11+
0,600

100
1
+

10
9
l+
l

11
12
17
21+

5

1 6,100
+
0

11
10

13,250
i+,8oo

62,150

15

6,500

100
0
29
10
11+

50,450
58,550
64,950

12
11+
16
16

3,900
(i
)

8
(2)

8,900
6,250

19
Ik

413,250
20,400
47,300
41,950

100

67,500

118,250
0
0
(l)

9,800
7,000
10 ,1+00
21,500
66,850

100
0
0
()
2
8

6
9

18

57

Nonmetropolitan areas
Total................
1 unit.............
2 -1 units..........
+
5-9 units..........
10 -21+ units........
25 -1+9 units........
50-99 units........
100-21+9 units......
250 or more units...

120,600
26,100

100
22

1+7,300

39
17
l+
l
5
3

See footnotes on p. 38.




21,000
16,600
6,000
3,600
0
0

0
0

107,600
26,100
1 1,800
+
20,750
H +,300
()
i

3,600
0
0

100
21+
39
19
13
(2)
3

0
0

11,800
0
5,500
(1)
(1
)
M50

0
0
0

100
0
17
+
()
2
(2)

1+2
0
0
0

()
1

0
0

()
1
()
1

0
0
0
0

100
0
0
(2)
(2)
0
0
0
0

30

Table IT.— Commercial residential builders: Distribution by builders* type-of-structure
specialization, by extent of activity in building construction, by type of
builder, and by metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, 19**9

Type of residential
structure started

Number of
builders

Percent of builders having building
construction 3as—
Sole
business

Principal
business

Subordinate
business

Percent for
whoa extent of
building activ­
ity was
unknown

All commercial builders
All dwelling units.....................
1 -family houses only.................
1 -family and multifamily structures...
Multifamily structures only..........

109,800
96,650
4,450
8,700

66
67
7^
53

20
20

9
9
13
7

1
*
3

()
2

()
2

3°

10

9

25
21*

2

()
2
()
2

()
2

()
2

3*
1

10

18
18

1
*
1
*

Operative builders
All dwelling units.....................
1 -family houses only.................
1 -family and multifamily structures...
Multifamily structures only..........

18,800
*
10,150
*

All dwelling units.....................
1 -family houses only.................
1 -family and multifamily structures...
Multifamily structures only.... .....

51* 000
,

1,550

7,100

62
6*
1
72
51

10

1
*

General contractors
50,750

1,700
1,550

68
68
76
65
Operative

All dwelling units.....................
1 -family houses only.................
1 -family and multifamily structures...
Multifamily structures only..........

7,000

81

5,750

1,200

83
73

()
1

2
()

9
9

()
2
()
2

()
2
()
2
builders-general contractors
()
2
11
10
()
2
()
2
()
2
()
2
()
2

()
2
()
2
()
2
()
2
()
2
()
2

Metropolitan areas
All dwelling units.....................
1 -family houses only.................
1 -family and multifamily structures...
Multifamily structures only..........

60,100
49,950
3,650
6,500

All dwelling units.....................
1 -family houses only.................
1 -family and multifamily structures...
Multifamily structures only..........

49,700

67

68
77
51

10
10

()
2
8

18
18

5

1
*

()
2

()
2

28

13

Nonmetropolitan areas

See footnotes on p. 38.




46,700

800
2,200

66
66

9
9

()
2

()
2
()
2

61

23
23

2

()
2

()
2
()
2

36

3

31

Table 18.— Commercial residential builders: Distribution and average
number of units started per builder, by size of operations,
by type of residential structures started, and by activity
in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, 1949
Average number of dwelling units
started per builder of—
Multi1 -family
1 -family
Multi1 -family and multifamily
Total
and multifamily
houses
family
family
structures
structures
units
only
only
only
structures
structures
Total, United States

Percent of builders starting—
Size of operations
(dwelling units
started in 1949)

Total
units

1 -family
houses
only

100
0

100
0

6
1

5

24

15

1

0

76

3

3

4

10

32
25

4

5
3

26
16

100

100

34
38
13
9

41
34

100
0

10
1

12
8

100
0
28
28

73
9

24

6

5

10
8

3
7
15
95

Total................
1 unit.............
2-4 units..........
5-9 units..........
10-24 units........
25 or more units....

100

100

42
37

48
34

11
6

Total................
1 unit........... ' .
.
2-4 units..........
5-9 units..........
10-24 units........
25 or more units....

20

8
8
8

6

14
91
Metropolitan areas

6

6

14
74

14

0
2
6
16

108

146

7

28
0

18
0
2

1

3
7
15
109

3

6
14
75

7

16
179

Nonmetropolitan areas

100

100

53
36

56
33

8

Total........... .
1 unit.............
2-4 units..........
5-9 units..........
10-24 units........
25 or more units....

8

3

3

()
2

()
2

100
0

()
2
()
2
()
2
()
2

100
0
88

()
2
2
()
()
2

2
1

2
1

3
5

3
5

11
()
1

7

11
(i)

5

0
()
1
()
1
()
1
()
1

0
3
(i
)
()
1
()
1

See footnotes on p. 38
Table 19 .--Private nonfarm dwelling units started by commercial builders: Distribution by size
of operations, by builders1 type-of-structure specialization, and by activity in metro­
politan and nonmetropolitan areas, 19^9

Size of operations
(dwelling units
started in 1949)

Number of dwelling units started
Percent of dwelling units started
by builders of—
by builders of—
MultiMulti1 -family
1 -family
1 -family
1 -family
family
Total
Total
and multiand multifamily
houses
houses
family
structures
units
family
units
structures
only
only
only
structures
only
structures
Total, United States

698,200
46 ,500
107,850

Total...............
1 unit............
2-4 units.........
5-9 units.........
10-24 units.......
25 or more units...

70,400
95,050
378,400

Total...............
1 unit............
2-4 units.........
5-9 units.........
10-24 units.......
25 or more units...

577,600
20 > 0 0
60,550
1 9,400
+
76 ,1+50
368,800

464,500
46 ,500
86,950
59,050
67,950
204,050

106,500
0
5,000
7,100
16,300
78,100

127,200
0
15,900

100

4,250

10

10,800
96,250

l4
54

359,800
20 ,1+00

100,750
0
3 A 50
6,600
13,050
77,650

117,050
0
11,250

100

4,200

100
10

100
0

19
13
15
44

5
7
15
73

100
6

100
0

10

13

9
14
64

11

3
7
13
77

7
15

100
0
12
3
9
76

Metropolitan areas

1+5,850

38,600
55,150

199,800

10,250
91,350

3

15.
55

100
0
10
4
9
78

Nonmetropolitan areas
Total...............
1 unit............
2-4 units.........
5-9 units.........
10-24 units...... .
25 or more units...
See footnotes on p.




120,600
26,100

104,700

5,750

26,100

0

47,300

41,100
20,450

21,000
16,600
9,600

38 .

12,800
4,250

()
l
(1)
(l)
()
l

10,150
0

100
22

100
25

4,650
()
1
(1)

39
17
14

20
12

4,900

8

4

39

100
0
(1)
(1)
(1)
()
1

100
0
46
(1)
(1)
48

32

Table

20 . Private 1 -family houses
—

started by operative builders: Distribution by size of
operative builders* 1-family house operations, in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan
areas, 19*9
4
Total, United States
Percent
Number
distribution

Size of operations
(l-family houses
started in 19* 9 )
*

5

1 house.............
2 -k houses..........
5-9 houses..........

11

36,760
31,330

10-2*4- houses........

51,260

2 5 - 4 9 houses...... .
*50-99 houses........

**5,350
79, * - 0
42
**7,780
33,750

100-2*4-9 houses..... .
250 or more houses...

16
11

10

0

15

Ik

75,590
1+7,780
33,750

Ik

6,kk0
12,230
6,050
**,380
2,700
3,830
0

8
8

25,280
1 6,880
*
12,650
*

100
18

35,630

3

2^,530

9
15
13
23

Nonmetropolitan areas
Percent
Number
distribution

100

306,630
10,170

100

3^2,260
16,610

Total.................

Metropolitan areas
Percent
distribution

Number

25

3*
*
17

12
8
11
0
0

Table 21 .
--Number of residential builders: Percent distribution
by type of builder, selected metropolitan areas, 1 * 95
9*

Metropolitan area

Number
of
builders

Percent distribution
Commercial builders
All
types of
builders

Atlanta, G a ...........
Binghamton, N. Y ......
Boston, Mass..........
Chicago, 111....... * .
..
Cleveland, Ohio.......

2,185
370
3,010
6,715
2,565

100
100
100
100
100

Dallas, Tex. .........
Dayton, Ohio..........
Denver, Colo..........
Detroit, Mich.........
El Paso, Tex..........

1,070
640
*-

100
100
100
100
100

Grand Rapids, Mich. ...
Lancaster, P a .........
Los Angeles, Calif. ...
Miami, Fla............
Mobile, Ala. .........
New Haven, Conn.......
New York, N. Y ........
Philadelphia, P a ......
Pittsburgh, Pa ........
San Francisco, Calif. .
Seattle, Wash.........
Stockton, Calif.......
Tulsa, Okla.......... .
Washington, D. C ......
See footnotes on p. 38.




1,600
5,105
335

1,065
*-0
42
12,055

2,920
^30

1,160
13,355
3,2*4-0
2,605

2,700
2, *+15
3**5

760
1,700

Total

Operative
builders

General
contractors
12
11
15

Operative
buildersgeneral
contractors

Owner
builders

35
30

20

kO

19
13
17

18
13

3
3
6
3
5

29
17
29
17

33
20
12
10
22

10
1
k
1
(2)

10
19

6
3

16

k

9
17

2

8

18

k

70

28
18

22
22
12

kl
57
71

26

3
3
2
10

12

2

66

18

k

55

9
11

3
*
+

63

3*
*
35
72

38
*5
+

28
ko

100
100
100
100
100

32
29

100
100
100
100
100

30
53
*3
+
29
59

100
100
100
100

3*
*
*5
*
37
*7
*

kl
37
30

16

18
16
7
21

26
12

15
23
20
23
25
32

1

65
70

60
66

65
28

62
55
72

60
68
71
59
63
70

kl

53

33

Table 22.--Number of private nonfarm dwelling units started:
Percent distribution by type of builder, se­
lected metropolitan areas, 19^ 9 5

Metropolitan area

Population
(1950
census)

Number of
All
dwelling
types of
units
started
builders

Percent of dwelling units started by-Commercial builders
Operative
Owner
Operative
General
buildersTotal
builders
builders contractors
general
contractors

Atlanta, Ga..........
Binghamton, N. Y .....
Boston, Mass.........
Chicago, 1 1 1 .........
Cleveland, Ohio .....

671,797
18*+,698
2,369,986
5,^95,361+
1,465,511

1 0 ,21+0
1 ,0 2 5
8,170
26,1+00
1 1 ,8 0 0

100
100
100
100
100

87
76
76
81+
85

69
1*7
1+6
39
5i
*

13
12
21
31
10

5
17
9
l+
l
21

13
2+
1
21+
16
15

Dallas, Tex..........
Dayton, Ohio ........
Denver, Colo.........
Detroit, Mich..... .
El Paso, Tex.........

6 1 4 ,7 9 9
4 5 7 ,3 3 3
563,832
3 ,0 1 6 ,1 9 7
194,968

9,060
2 ,0 7 0
6,500
3 1 ,81+0
1 ,7 9 0

100
100
100
100
100

97
81
86
87
88

61
11
++
69
80
69

15
35
7
6
17

21
2
10
1
2

3
19
13
12

Grand Rapids, Mich. .
.
Lancaster, Pa. ......
Los Angeles, Calif. .
.
Miami, Fla..... L....
.....
Mobile, Ala.

288,292
2 3 4 ,7 1 7
>♦,363,911
495,084
2 3 1 ,1 0 5

2 ,61+5
1,030
71,000
1 5 ,8 7 0
1 ,0 3 5

100
100
100
100
100

72
67
89
88
71

29
l+
i
61
55
21

13
33
16
l+
l
31

30
20
12
19
19

28
33
11
12
29

New Haven, Conn......
New York, N. Y .6 .....
Philadelphia, Pa .....
Pittsburgh, P a .......
San Francisco, Calif J

2 6 4 ,6 2 2
1 2 ,9 1 1 ,9 9 4
3 ,6 7 1 ,0 4 8
2,213,236
2 ,2 4 0 ,7 6 7

2 ,21+0
83,1+1+0
2 2 ,2 0 0
9 ,5 2 0
2 0 ,2 1 0

100
100
100
100
100

63
92
92
79
93

32
73
77
55
1*7

21
l+
l
11
16
29

10
5
1
+
8
17

37
8
8
21
7

Seattle, Wash........
Stockton, Calif......
Tulsa, Okla..........
Washington, D. C.®....

7 3 2 ,9 9 2
2 0 0 ,7 5 0
251,686
1 ,4 6 4 ,0 8 9

6 ,6i o
+
1 ,1 5 5
5 ,1 7 5
32,1+80

100
100
100
100

71
81+
89
97

36
56
67
57

25
19
7
31*

10
9
15
6

29
16
11
3

See footnotes on p. 3 8 •




Ik

34

Table

23 ._Commercial

residential builders and private nonfarm dwelling units started:
Percent distribution by size of builders* operations, selected metropolitan
areas, 1949 ^

Size of 1949 operations (dwelling units started)
Metropolitan area

All size
groups

1

2-4

5-21+

25-^9

50-100

100 or
more

Percent distribution of builders

San Francisco, Cal1f ,7 ....
Seattle Wash•
Stockton CalJf.
Tuls**-, OkTa....... .
Washington, D. C . 8 ........

100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100

Atlanta, Ga.
Binghamton, N. Y ...........
Boston, Mass. ••••••«•••••••
Hhl fAffn. Til. ..............
Cleveland, Ohio ••••••••••••
T nl 1as Tev. ...............
i
TlAvtnn. Ohio ...............
TipnvPT. Colo. ..............
Detroit, Mich.
" n Paso * Tex. ..............
p
M i ch.* ***••••«
TAnnAR+,6T. Pa. .............
Ta o AncreTea Calif. ........
Ml ami. Fla• ................
Mnh-f Ip Ala................
rlUUXlvj nuf • •♦•♦••••••••••*
-c c
iipu flaven Conn. ...........
Y o r k v N. Y .^ ..........
ilCW J L
4 • A • ••••••••••*
1
Philadelphia. Pa. .........
x uiXOUiCxj^uxai, *w • ..........
PIi+iRhiiriffh. P a . ............
Con f no n *1 a n r \
P r
.* .....
gau T xauuxDwu,
•7 .....
Rpat.tIs. Wash. .............
Rtnf’
D IU^a u UU, Calif. ...........
i ktfin v * J a .
CX.
Tnl s a Olcl a. ...............
Washington, D. C. 8 ........

100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100

Binghamton, N. Y ...........

Mnh-fl

Ala.......... .....

New York/N. Y.6 ..........

29

21
21
22
25

30
28
30
29

12
+
31
12
+
36
36
32
39
31
30
36
40
33
10
+

20
39
43
37

1+8

23

39
10
+
39

16

29

1+1

20

33

33
11
++
31

45
3^

29
29
31
29
39
20

27
53
40
24

26

1+1
27
33

26
29

28
25
34
23
29
35

26
18
14

26
23
14
15
37
27

4
1
2
5
5
3
4
2
8
4
2
2
2
5
2
2
2
4
4
2
1
2
4
5

2
1
(l)
2
3
3
(1)
2
4
5
1
0
1
2
0
(2)
4
3
3
1
(2)
1
5
3

2
1
(2)
2
1
2
()
2
1
4
2
()
2
0
2
2
2
(2)
2
3
1
2
1
1
3
6

Percent distribution of dwelling units started

See footnotes on p. 3$ •




2
6
7
3
3
3
k

5
1
3
5
6
3
2
7
10
3
2
k

3
11
6
2
1

9
19
21
8
9
8
15
11

17
29
35
25
23
27
42

11
4
9
17
17
9

18

3

28
21
22
57
57
21
19
34
31
13
13

8
15

16

1+

8
17

18
9
9

16
26
9
8
10
12

16
17
6
2

26
22
27
22

28
8

10

10
19
6
14
9
17
6
10
17
7
5
11
10
4

9
8
8
15
19

16

52
34
20
32
29

38
18

14
30
5
0
6
10
0
5
19
13
22
9
3
11

32
45
27
6
0
55
46
3^
11
50
5^
21
47
38
33

26

28

6

79

35

Table

2 k

.— Commercial residential builders and private nonfarm dwelling units started:
Percent distribution by type of builder and by builders* type-of-structure
specialization, selected metropolitan areas, 19^9 5

Metropolitan area

Binghamton, N. Y .......

Grand Rapids, Mich.....
Los Angeles, Calif. ....

New York, N. Y.6 ...... .
philftctplphi a, P a .......
Pittsburgh, P a . ........
San Francisco, Calif . ..
7
Seattle, Wash» .........
Stockton, Cal1f. .......
' i lR L Ok! A . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tl P
Washington, D . C . 3 ....
A+ l l v f - Cpl............. ..
fihi I
Binghamton, N» Y T . . . . . .
■Rnct.nn Mafia . ..........
HV J C' ^r XJixi. • . . . . • • • • • ■
v B n
v U lv( * ev ^. T11. • • • * . . . . . .
f1o v b 1« n ? . Oh In . . . . . . . .
*
r
f l « 11 B e . T f i y . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tiavton. Ohio
T le m vP t'

Col n.

T J e + m l +•.. M 4 o h .

. . . . . . . . . .
.. . . . . . . .

Tex . . . . . . . . . . .
Grand Rapids, Mich.....
tjn P o R n .

T a rK ’ li.R t.fiT . P a .

. . . . . . . . .

Los Angeles, Calif.....
KHrwiI PI a .............
Mrthi1g Ala . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wa u Haven . Conn • . . . . . . .
Ne n Y o ir X . N. Y.^ « • « • • • •
......
ilC w X v kVj J1 • i> •
L
Philadelphia, Pa. . . . . . .
Pi t.t.RVniTfTh P a . . . . . . . . .
San Francisco, Calif.7 . .
e

Wh r Vi -

. . . . . . . . .

Stockton, Ca1if. .......
Tnls?a Okla . . . . . . . . . . . .
Washington, D. C . 3 ....
See footnotes on p. 38.




All
commercial
builders

100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100

100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100

Commercial builders starting 1-family houses only
Operative
buildersGeneral
Operative
Total
general
contractors
builders
contractors
Percent distribution of builders
8^
87
96
95
92
86
86
81
96

8k
99
93
62

60
78
95
73

9k
86
77
91
71
87
88

k6
k9
k6
35

k9

30
30
37
51
35
38

8
8
13
9
12
13

69

Qk
TJ

k6

k

Ik
19

60

3k

3^
50
23
27
38

50
29

6
2
0
20
10
5

2k
2k

52
59
35
50
38
37
33
33

38
37
12
*

28
53

32
61

30
53
55
36

k2

k5
52
Uk

32

9k
58

9k
65
86
22

5
8
l*
i

23

75
79
57
70
89
87
97
86

82
5+
*
73

16
13

35
36
52

60
30

18

18

k
2
12
(2)
7
6
12
5
6
8
7

23
58
Percent distribution of dwelling units started

k2

All other
commercial
builders

53
35
57
81
71

kO
21
35
17
37
U6

60
33
35
3^

ko
69

18

8
9
19

26
11
12
20
6
7

16
18
k9
8
7
19
32
7
9
1^
12
11

16
k
2

k
7
10
15
22

Ik
2
1
1
0
39
20

5
10
8
13

1
k
7
11
9
9
13
2

k
16
1
7
38
40
22
5
27
6

Ik
23
9
29
13
12

58
31

16
23
25
21
^3
30
11
13
3

ik
55

k8
‘56

18
1+6
27

k6
k2
k6
35

Ik
78

Table

Metropolitan area

number of dwelling units per builder, by type of builder and by builders
type-of-structure specialization, selected metropolitan areas, 19^ 9 *

Average number of dwelling units started per builder
Commercial builders starting
All
Operative
1-family houses only
General
Operative
commer­ Operative
builderscial
Operative
General
general
builders contractors
buildersTotal
Total
general
contractors
builders
builders contractors
contractors

Atlanta, G a ...........
Binghamton, N. Y ......
Boston, Mass..........
Chicago, 111..........

13
8
5
10

Cleveland, Ohio ......
Dallas, Tex...........
Dayton/ Ohio .........
Denver, Colo..........

11
11
7
8

Detroit, Mich.........
El Paso, Tex..........
Grand Rapids, Mich. ...
Lancaster, P a ........ .

18

Los Angeles, Calif. ...
Miami, Fla............
Mobile, Al a...........
New Haven, Conn.......

12
13
6
1
+

New York, N. Y.6 .....
Philadelphia, P a ......
Pittsburgh, P a ........
San Francisco, Calif.7.

11
15
9

Seattle, Wash.........
Stockton, Calif.......
Tulsa, Okla...........
Washington, D. C.®....
See footnotes on p. 38.




25 .--Average

11
6
5

8

19
17
5
11

9
10
5
7

6
17
7
9

3
3
3
2

19
13
5
10

33
17
21
13

51
20
15

5
7
39
5

11

17
12
6
5

2k
2k

k
k
3
k

11
0
11
11

18
+
9

69
9
0
0

3
7
1
+
5

9
11
3
1
+

Ik

3
5
2
2

13

17
15
15
13

19

11
19
27
6

Ik
2k

2
3
3
3

i0
+
8
12
9

1

10
9
2+
l
12

9
15
1
^
19

1+
1

3
1
+
6
2

k
k

8

1

26
21
5
5

16

3
1
+
5
8

16
12

Ik
16

6
6

k

5
5

11

11
1
+
7

k
2

^3
^9
5

10

17
30
12
13

1
+
3
5
7

9
9
15
11

8
11
6
8

7
13

5
6

i
+
8

1
+

5

3
• 6

3
8

Ik

16

12
7
28

Ik

16

36

37

26

9

11

5
53

2k

3
2
3
5

5
1
+
1
+
7

10

Operative
General
builders contractors

8
8
6
11

17
9
6
13

18

All other commercial
builders

k
6

3
3
1
+

1
+6

7
7

18

k

21

17

1+6

3k
32
5

16

10

53
11
12
38

Ik

11
5

16

13
11
+

60

Operative
buildersgeneral
contractors
33
11
+
21
38
20

1+6
0
13
0

16
51
26

19
55
66

18

20
68
31

26

16

9

97
30

23

26

18

Ik

32
28

16

26

17
9
12
156

1+6

18

7
12

l
+
68
139

8
15

232

689

3^

Table 26.— Commercially built private nonfarm dwelling units: Percent distribution b y type of
structure and b y type of builder, selected metropolitan areas, 19**9 5

Metropolitan area

All
commercially
built
dwelling
units

All types
of builders

Percent distribution
1-family houses started by
Dwellings in 2 -or-more-family structures started by
Operative
Operative
General
General
Operative
buildersAll types
buildersOperative
general
general
contractors
builders
of builders
builders
contractors
contractors
contractors

19
27

5
10
10
15

51
22
15
19

11
**
8
5
8

6
2
8
10

1
12
2
1

^3
55
10
*
68

11
13
22
6

21
*
19
3
10

22
13
35

1
3
20
2

1
3

16

20
7
15
13

86
75
1*
1
21

7

18
18

1
1
1*
1
28

6
6
(2)
3

6
l
*
0
0

(
2)
1
(2)
2

0
1
(2)
1

60
88

52
11
*
19
11
*

11
8
21
33

10
15
20

lk

27
36
10
*
12

17
21
11
9

6
9
23
1

1
*
6
6
2

100
100
100
100

59
80
60
75

18
*
67
37
11
**

8
9
15

11
*
20
10
*
25

32

16

3
l
*
8
15

33
7

7
3
5
15

2
1
2
3

100
100
100
100

63
83
91
27

1*0
53
71
21

11
20
5
3

12
10
15
3

37
17
9
73

10
13
5
37

2*
l
3
3
33

3
1
1
3

*+9

36

8

78
85

5k

Ik

81

56
39

100
100
100
100

78
* 87
65
8*
1

Detroit, Mich..... .
£1 Paso, Tex...........
Grand Rapids, Mich. ....
Lancaster, P a ....... .

100
100
100
100

9k

Los Angeles, Calif.....
Miami, Fla.......... .
Mobile, A l a ............
New Haven, Conn........

100
100
100
100

New York, N. Y. 6 ......
Philadelphia, P a .......
Pittsburgh, P a .........
San Francisco, Calif.7..
Seattle, Wash........ .
Stockton, Calif........
Tulsa, Okla............
Washington, D . C .8 ....

Atlanta, G a ............
Binghamton, N. Y .......
Boston, Mass...........
Chicago, 111...........

100
100
100
100

Cleveland, Ohio .......
Dallas, Tex............
Dayton, Ohio ..........
Denver, Colo...........

100
97
73

6k

18
*

16

0
1

See footnotes on p . 38 •




u
>
<1

38

Footnotes

1 Insufficient
2 Less

number to shov separately.

than 0.5 percent of total.

3 With overall responsibility, as an operative residential builder or a general contrac­
tor, or both; special trade contracting is not classified as building construction for
purposes of these tables.
^Includes price of land. For owner-built houses, data are based on owner’s best esti­
mate of reasonable value of the house at time of completion.
5 The estimates of the average size of builders, the distribution of firms by type of
builder and by type of structures built, and other ratios shown in these tables for 2^ se­
lected metropolitan areas, are based on the number of dwelling units started according to
sample data collected in the ”1949 Survey of the Residential Building Industry.” For some
areas, previously published data on dwelling units started, obtained from Bureau surveys
conducted for other purposes, may differ from the basic starts information used in this
study, because of differences in the sample. See May 1951 Supplement to Construction,
monthly publication of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and BLS Bulletin 1115, New Housing
in Metropolitan Areas, 1949-51*
In addition to the privately owned dwellings shown, the following numbers of units in
public housing projects were started in 1949: Atlanta, 16; Binghamton, 166; Boston,
4,970; Chicago, 851; Denver, 88; II Paso, 48; New Haven, 8l; New York, 20,813; San Fran­
cisco, 28; and Washington, 128.

6Data for New York are affected materially by exclusion of public housing from this survev, since a substantial amount of public housing was begun there in 1949*
(See footnote
5.) The average size of builders' operations, especially in the case of the general con­
tractors, and the importance of general contractors' output in the total are thereby mini­
mized.
7Results presented here for the San Francisco area, for the most part, are generally in
agreement with Maisel's findings. Exact comparisons should not be attempted, however, b e ­
cause the Maisel study covered housing completed in 1949 and the survey upon which this
report is based, covered housing started.
8Data for Washington, D. C. reflect an extraordinary amount of large elevator-type
apartment building in 1949 by general contractors.
Note: Where percent distributions are shown, components may not always add to 100 b e ­
cause of rounding.




U. S. G O V E R N M E N T P R IN T IN G O F F IC E

: 1954 0 — 3 2 4 3 4 7