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Building a MarketThe Rise of the Home Improvement Industry, 1914-1960$
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Richard Harris

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226317663

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226317687.001.0001

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Mr. and Mrs. Builder

Mr. and Mrs. Builder

(p.228) (p.229) Nine Mr. and Mrs. Builder
Building a Market

Richard Harris

University of Chicago Press

By 1949, there had been a boom in owner-building across the United States, Canada, and Australia. Owners accounted for a third of all new houses and a quarter of all dwellings of any kind, which were often being constructed outside city limits. Homesteading was taking place everywhere, in clustered developments and scattered locations. Despite the scarcity of building materials, the Canadian and U.S. governments helped to revive the building industry, the latter through a new Veterans Emergency Housing Program. Once they realized the magnitude of the amateur building boom, consumer magazines began to cater to owner-builders by offering assistance in the form of plans and tips. Newspapers, publishers, and plan companies did the same. Together, they convinced consumers that house construction was not as complicated as it sounded, that “anyone can build a house.” The idea caught on among amateur builders frustrated by the postwar housing shortage.

Keywords:   owner-building, United States, Canada, homesteading, building materials, building industry, amateur building, consumer magazines, house construction, housing shortage

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