There was no place to put stuff away. Someone made a bulk purchase, and it added to the stuff piled on kitchen countertops. There were no cars in the garages, because people were using their garages for storage.

The top builders have proven their ability to grow quickly. Now the question is how much more of the market they'll control in the future.

Researchers were amazed at the messes they encountered.

We've envisioned it as an artist's studio, although it can have other uses. But it certainly isn't large enough for anyone to live there.

What we decided to do ... was visit houses in which people had lived for a year, to find out exactly how they used those spaces, and see whether that reality was the same as that portrayed in builder model homes.

Every year, we have to outdo ourselves, bring thousands of builders through our house, and devote 50 pages of our magazine to it.

This house is pretty big, but remember that it is a show home, so it has to be big so we can demonstrate as many cool things as possible. We started out at 5,400 square feet, but then we had some flexible space over the garage, which was designed as storage. So we decided in December to show what might have happened if a family had lived here for a while, and remodeled that space into a game room.