Where there's room for it, outdoor space is a great amenity. But what kind of outdoor space are most builders providing? The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) took a look at recently released U.S. Census Bureau data, and what the number show might surprise you (see: "Patios: A Popular Feature in New Homes Started in 2014," by Ashok Chaluvadi).

For new homes nationwide, "in 2014, a majority (56 percent) of all new homes started had a patio. In contrast, only 23 percent had a deck," NAHB notes. But there's a distinct regional breakdown: In the Mid Atlantic, only 24% of new homes had patios; in New England, the share was only 25%. But 66% of New England homes started in 2014 came with wood decks. In other parts of the country, decks are quite rare: In the West South Central division, which includes Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, only 4% of new houses came with a deck in 2014.

By the way, the government seems to be getting a little better at making websites. This year's Census data on housing characteristics is presented in a slick graphic interface that allows you to drill down into the data by clicking on a nice little picture of a house. Sure — if you do click, the website opens up a boring PDF of a spreadsheet full of numbers. But hey — it's a start.