We're all familiar with the biggest challenges the market is facing right now--the availability of lots and qualified labor, rising material costs, and stringent mortgage qualification standards that are boxing out potential new home buyers. 

But in the Builder 100 survey, we asked builders to identify the biggest impediments to their personal success in 2015, which provided insight into how pervasive some of these hot-button issues are, and how many builders are impeded by these bottlenecks at the same time.

In order to quantify the qualitative answers from each builder and search for any trends, we looked to the words. We compiled all the responses and set a minimum of five occurrences per word, leaving us with 31 words that appeared five times or more in all of the answers.

Top Five Occurring Words: 

(note that we combined words where no meaning would be lost)

  1. land/lot/lots: 93 occurrences 
  2. labor/workforce: 36 occurrences 
  3. available/availability: 35 occurrences
  4. cost/costs: 24 occurrences
  5. finding/supply: 23 occurrences

The top occurring words came as no surprise, but we wanted to see two other things:

  • The relationship between the highest occurring words to identify which "why" is feeding the "what" for builders (ex: if land, labor, mortgage=what, availability, cost, affordability=why).
  • Instances where a "what" is co-occurring with another "what" (or multiples), to get a sense of whether the majority of builders have to overcome more than one major challenge facing the housing market.

To quantify co-occurrences, we sifted through each individual response and counted the times when one of the 31 most-used words co-occurred with another of the most-used words. The co-occurrences between these words is demonstrated in the interactive by the width of the connecting line, but you can see the raw information with the exact count of co-occurrences in our spreadsheet at the bottom of the page. 

How to explore occurrences in the interactive:

  • The 31 circles represent each of the highest occurring words. The amount of occurrences are symbolized by the diameter of each circle; hovering over each circle will tell you which word the circle represents, and how many times it occurred in the responses.

How to explore co-occurrences in the interactive:

  • While the hover and diameter of the circles represent the overall amount of a word's occurrence in all responses, clicking on a individual circle allows you to view the relationship between that word and the other 30 most-occurring words.
  • When you click on a specific word you may see circles fade in the back. This means that there were zero co-occurrences of the selected word with those words. For any words that co-occur with the circle of the word you selected, the relationship will be quantified by the connecting line's width (a thin line represents few co-occurrences, while a very thick line represents many co-occurrences).

Credit: Jessica Rubenstein

Unsurprisingly, the top co-occurrences are rooted by land/lot/lots, the most prevalent challenge among all builders completing the survey (93 occurrences).

  1. Top Five Co-Occurrences:

    land/lot/lots & available/availability: 29 co-occurrences

  2. land/lot/lots & finding/supply: 18 co-occurrences
  3. land/lot/lots & price/prices/pricing: 17 co-occurrences
  4. land/lot/lots & cost/costs: 16 co-occurrences
  5. land/lot/lots & labor: 13 co-occurrences

As you can see, the majority of the top five co-occurrences matched "what" to "why," excluding land/lot/lots and labor/workforce, which tells us that builders for the most part are not heavily impeded by more than one major challenge, but if they are, it tends to be the issue of where to build new homes, and how to get the people to build them.