Speed Reads

Numbers don't lie

Americans are putting record numbers of toilets in their houses

Americans are putting record numbers of toilets in their houses

As the housing market continues its long recovery, Americans are building larger and larger houses, according to a Census Bureau report released earlier this week. A record 44 percent of new homes last year had four bedrooms or more, up from 41 percent in 2012, and they are larger than ever. That's interesting, but hardly news for anyone who's watched new houses sprout up in their neighborhoods. What you can't see from the outside is the internal plumbing. The Wall Street Journal has this chart:

Yes, a third of all new houses built last year had at least three toilets. And American households aren't getting any bigger — in fact, they're shrinking. In 2013, according to Census data, the mean U.S. household had 2.54 people, the lowest per-household average since at least 1960. That means, or at least strongly suggests, that lots of new houses have more toilets than people. The reason for this is that wealthier people with good credit are the ones buying new homes, and why not have lots of bathrooms and square footage?

But there's a limit, even for the gilded class. In 2009, the wife of a Russian billionaire dropped her plans to tear down a 19,000-square-foot mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, and replace it with a 21,000-square-foot palace. A big reason the hedge-fund community of Greenwich was up in arms over the opulent plan was this well-publicized detail: The new house was slated to have 26 bathrooms.