1966–1975: A Revolution

It was the sexual revolution, and the home building industry wasn't left untouched — at least not if Practical Builder could help it. A 19-page feature in August 1967 called "Sex and the Single-Family Home" attempted to tackle how sex influenced — or failed to influence — builders' business decisions.

By By Rhonda Jackson & Sara Zailskas, Staff Writers | December 31, 2006


The Birth of Building's Man of the Year
Decade at A Glance
Portrait of A 1966 Builder

It was the sexual revolution, and the home building industry wasn't left untouched — at least not if Practical Builder could help it.

A 19-page feature in August 1967 called "Sex and the Single-Family Home" attempted to tackle how sex influenced — or failed to influence — builders' business decisions. "This article frankly urges home builders to look up from their vouchers and realize that something is missing from almost all their homes. Something that people need, want and enjoy. Sex appeal," it reads, going on to ask, "Why is it that home builders skirt around sex more carefully than they avoid bankruptcy?"


Home buyers called for floor plans stressing privacy, and Practical Builder was there to offer ideas to make it happen — suggesting coziness, opulence and dramatic simplicity to start.

In the late '60s, Practical Builder, which made the switch to Professional Builder in 1968, helped builders add sex appeal to their homes. Among our tips:

  • Make the master bedroom its own suite
  • Sound condition that suite
  • Use double-bedroom-doors
  • Put locks on bedroom doors
  • Build a dais for the bed
  • Mirror portions of the wall
  • Add real masonry fireplaces to the master bedroom
  • Design a private balcony off the master bedroom
  • Use marble on the vanity
  • Decorate with colors like red, orange, purples and bright pinks.

"It all boils down to the fact that sex in selling, subtly used, implied rather than expressed, is a selling weapon to make prospective buyers dissatisfied with what they have and want what you have to sell," we wrote. Custom builders Robert Oliver and Virginia Chapman admitted, "We are inclined to disguise sex appeal with other words such as fashionable, smart and new."

Energy Crisis

Intimacy wasn't the only factor heating up Americans' homes. The Energy Crisis that kicked off in 1973 pushed the government to set thermostats at 68 degrees or lower — even during the winter. Consumer Reports urged consumers to abstain from buying air conditioners and said that running the AC would heat up the outdoors, an incorrect assumption, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers points out. The energy crisis also meant some prices soared and housing design changed. Overall, homes became better-insulated.

Housing Rights Expand

The U.S. had been operating under housing legislation since 1866, and 1968 finally brought a respite. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 enforced anti-housing discrimination against race, religion, national origin, sex, handicap and family status.

70th Anniversary Article Series




  • 1936-1945 Depression and War
  • 1946-1955 Driving Toward Profit
  • 1956-1965 Baby Boom
  • 1966-1975 A Revolution
  • 1976-1985 Low Energy
  • 1986-1995 Clearing the Fog
  • 1996-2006 The Big Boom



    In 1968 The magazine changed its name, focus and audience from Practical Builder to Professional Builder and began the journey to become the publication we are today.

    The Birth of Building's Man of the Year

    In 1966, Practical Builder's editors decided it was about time they recognized the unnoticed and uncredited movers and shakers of the building industry, and Building's Man of the Year was born. The chosen "man or group of men" could come from any area of business, not just the building industry: government, education or design association, too. Today, our Builder of the Year award honors a company whose success outshines others.

    1966 William J. Levitt

    1967 Eli Broad

    1968 Ray Watt

    1969 Donald Scholz

    1970 Trammell Crow

    1971 George McKeon

    1972 Robert Winnerman/Charles Rutenberg

    1973 Raymond L. Watson

    1974 David G. Fox

    1975 Philip J. Reilly

    Decade at A Glance

    Annual housing starts

    1966 1,164,900

    1967 1,291,600

    1968 1,507,400

    1969 1,466,800

    1970 1,433,600

    1971 2,052,200

    1972 2,356,500

    1973 2,045,200

    1974 1,337,700

    1975 1,160,400

    Source: U.S. Census Bureau

    Average sales prices

    1966 $14,200

    1967 $14,250

    1968 $14,950

    1969 $15,550

    1970 $23,450

    1971 $25,250

    1972 $27,550

    1973 $32,500

    1974 $34,900

    1975 $39,300

    Source: www.thepeoplehistory.com

    Portrait of A 1966 Builder

    "Portrait of a U.S. Home Builder," published in the September 1966 issue of Practical Builder, provided a glimpse into the typical builder of yesteryear.

    Large Builders (Over 75 units annually)

    The typical large home builder in 1966 diversified business. Fifty percent had real-estate brokerages, 71 percent were in land development, 21 percent had an investment in building supply, 13 percent were in subcontracting and 8 percent took on other financial investments.

    The typical large builder also raked in $2,242,600 on average per year — 58 percent of that in single-family homes, 35 percent in apartment complexes, 6 percent on commercial projects and 1 percent on remodeling jobs.

    Medium-Size Builders

    (11–75 units annually)

    For the mid-level home builders, 32.4 percent had sole proprietorship, 4.7 percent had a direct partnership and 64.8 percent had a corporation. The medium builder was in the business for 16.9 years on average.

    About 65 percent had diversified their business. Of those, 46 percent were in real-estate, 44 percent in land development, 18 percent in building supplies, 15 percent in subcontracting and 15 percent invested in other financial activities.

    Small Builders (1–10 homes annually)

    For small builders, 68.1 percent retained sole proprietorship, 8.3 percent had a partnership and 21 percent had a corporation. The typical small builder averaged 17.7 years in business.

    Among small builders, 42.4 percent diversified their interests: 28 percent were in real-estate, 33 percent in land development, 19 percent in building supplies, and 20 percent did subcontracting work.

    Ninety-two percent of small builders built homes, 15 percent built apartments, 39 percent were in commercial work and 23 percent worked on remodeling jobs.



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