Could the fireplace be going the way of the coal chute?
Only 41% of single-family homes started last year included fireplaces, according to the National Association of Home Builders Survey of Construction. That figure is the lowest percentage since NAHB began tabulating the data in consistent fashion in 2001.
An obvious explanation for the declining trend is that builders are foregoing fireplaces in some of their homes, so they can bring them in at prices their customers can afford. Keeping new homes affordable has become a considerable challenge lately. Fireplaces are generally a desirable amenity, but not one that all home buyers must have. According to the 2019 edition NAHB’s What Home Buyers Really Want, 55% and 48% of home buyers rate gas and wood burning fireplaces, respectively, as at least desirable.
By this measure, fireplaces fall in the middle of the list of decorative features in the NAHB survey in terms of desirability. However, only 16% of buyers say either type of fireplace is essential (meaning they are unlikely to purchase a home unless it has one).