The home building industry is finally climbing out of the doldrums, and some exciting, unexpected opportunities are revealing themselves, according to the latest Annual Builder Practices Survey, conducted by Home Innovation.

For over 30 years, Home Innovation's annual survey and reports have tracked market shares of building material categories. Some of the most interesting findings from the latest survey include:

• Fire sprinkler systems are found in 12% of all new single-family detached homes and 55% of multifamily units. Builders' top choice is still the CPVC stand-alone system, but PEX combined plumbing and sprinkler systems are gaining popularity, accounting for one-third of all sprinklers in new single-family detached (SFD) homes.

• Whole-house mechanical ventilation is moving closer to becoming the norm. Since 2008, shares of SFD homes with whole-house ventilation have grown from 9% to 27%.

• Garage door upgrades are up across the board, including insulated doors (66%), those with windows (37%), and those made of composite or plastic materials (11%). In 2014, 32% of all new SFD homes had bays for three or more cars—the most ever recorded by this study.

• In kitchen countertops, granite (64%) and quartz/engineered stone (6%) continue to gain popularity at the expense of laminate, solid surfacing, and ceramic tile.

• The single basin kitchen sink is making a comeback, growing from 5% to 20% of all new SFD homes in the past decade. Granite/stone kitchen sinks (8%) are growing at a faster rate than any other material type, and enameled cast iron is rebounding from its recession-induced low in 2009. Shares of one-piece cultured marble lavatories continue to decline.

• In flooring, carpeting remains the most popular material in new homes, dominating with about 83% of all new-home bedroom installations, but now only at about 40% of living rooms. Hardwood flooring—both solid and engineered varieties—is the second-most popular flooring category with 27% of all new-home installations. Ceramic tile—now with 72% of all bathroom floor installation in new homes—follows in the third position with 20% of all new-home flooring installations.

• Cooktops and wall oven combinations now have 24% of the market—taking share from freestanding stoves, which have 45%. Freezer-on-bottom refrigerators are now at 19%, and side-by-side, while still the most common configuration, has slid to 28%. In third is the traditional freezer-on-top with 13%.

This is just a sampling of the findings. Full reports are now ready to deliver for the following report categories:

• Appliances• Bathroom Accessories
• Beams and Headers
• Cabinets for Kitchen and Bath
• Countertops
• Driveways
• Ducts
• Exterior Doors
• Faucets
• Fencing and Landscape Walls
• Finish Flooring
• Fire Sprinkler Systems
• Foundations
• Garage Doors
• Home Standby Generators
• HVAC Systems
• Infrastructure
• Interior Doors
• Interior Finishes
• Outdoor Structures
• Patio Doors
• Plumbing Fixtures
• Roofing
• Sheathing—Floor, Roof, and Wall
• Soffit and Fascia
• Structural Systems—Floor, Roof, and Wall
• Swimming Pools
• Underlayment
• Windows

For a list of all reports, visit