The current housing downturn has spawned some dramatic changes in home building. The NAHB Research Center’s Annual Builder Practices Survey (ABPS), conducted in early 2009, confirmed two major themes for these changes: efforts to (1) reduce new-home production cost and (2) increase value to home buyers.

Builders have found that improving kitchens is a very important way to create a superior value recognized by potential buyers. Below are some of the trends the survey identified.

Countertops & Cabinets: The share of granite countertops has doubled since the housing downturn to become the most common countertop material in new homes. Engineered stone/quartz surfacing got a foothold, growing from less than 1 percent to nearly 5 percent of all new homes in the past three years, while solid surfacing, laminate, and ceramic tile continued to decline. Wood finishes have become even more popular. Laminate finish cabinets fell from 7 percent to 2 percent of kitchen cabinets.

Faucets & Sinks: While chrome finish faucets are still the most popular in new homes, their share fell 10 points. Hand-rubbed bronze and nickel were the biggest gainers, but stainless steel saw a substantial rebound in market share. Kitchens also saw an increase in stainless steel sinks—from 66 percent to 72 percent—while enamel finished steel and cast iron both declined. The share of undermount sinks grew to nearly half of all kitchen sinks in new homes.

Flooring & Appliances: Hardwood flooring gained popularity, increasing to about one-third of all kitchens in new homes. Ceramic tile and sheet vinyl, however, have lost market share. Slide-in ranges saw a rise in popularity, accounting for about a quarter of all cooking appliances, a 9 point increase over 2005. Shares of cooktop/wall oven combinations declined slightly. Including a refrigerator with the sale of the home increased from 45 percent to 54 percent, with stacked units making up the entire gain.

Visit to see the specifications of all 44 standard ABPS reports or to get more information on our Consumer Practices or Manufactured Housing reports for the U.S. and Canada.