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Douglas C. Pizac, Associated Press
Evan and Valerie Astle and their three children, Kayla, Mason and Ali, stand next to the 5,700-square-foot home they are building in Kaysville.

FARMINGTON — Utah leads the states and Davis County leads the counties nationwide in having the greatest number of homes with four or more bedrooms, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

It's part of a trend across the United States: Homes are getting bigger in terms of the number of bedrooms.

According to the survey, 20 percent of occupied homes in the United States in 2005 had four or more bedrooms. In 2000, 17.7 percent had that many.

But in Utah, nearly 40 percent of homes had at least four bedrooms, said the report, released Tuesday by the Census Bureau. And in Davis County, which ranked first among counties with 65,000 people or more, 49.4 percent of homes had that many bedrooms. Davis is followed by two counties in Georgia, one in Virginia and Utah County, with 45.7 percent.

It's no mystery for Barry Burton, Davis County's assistant director of community and economic development, that Utah would top the list.

"Utah as a whole has always had a high number of people per household," Burton said. "That, of course, requires bedrooms."

According to the same survey, Utah has an average of 3.07 people per household, the only state above the three-person mark. California trails Utah with an average of 2.92 people per household.

"In this country, bigger is better," said Gopal Ahluwalia, vice president of economic research at the National Association of Home Builders. "This is true for houses, and this is true for automobiles."

Evan and Valerie Astle are having a 5,700-square-foot house built in a new subdivision in Kaysville because they want more space for their three teenagers.

They have been renting a storage unit while living in their old, 2,100-square-foot home. That won't be a problem in the new house, which has four big bedrooms, 3 1/2 bathrooms and a three-car garage.

"Our kids have more stuff. They need more living space," said Valerie Astle, an elementary school teacher. "Our (old) house was fine when they were small, but we've just outgrown it."

Among states with the biggest percentage of large homes, Utah was followed by Maryland, Virginia, Colorado and Minnesota. Arkansas had the smallest share, at 12.6 percent. In much of the country, the growth in big houses is fueled by suburban homebuyers seeking luxury, rather than big families needing space, Ahluwalia said.

Bigger houses are good for homebuilders, such as Woodside Homes and Destination Homes, both based in Davis County. The two builders offer a variety of homes with at least four bedrooms: Woodside with 20 out of 40 plans and Destination with four out of 12 plans.

Destination marketing director Targhee Child said other competitors also offer four-bedroom homes that prove to be popular.

The 2005 ACS estimates are based on an annual, nationwide household sample of about 250,000 addresses per month, or 2.5 percent of the population a year, according to the Census Bureau.


E-mail: jdougherty@desnews.com