Where have all the home builders gone?

Liz Kovach co-owned Windswept Custom Homes in Dennis for more than two decades, building one or two custom homes per year on Cape Cod. But five years ago, Kovach and her husband decided to close up shop, with Kovach taking a job as a manager at a lumber company and her husband becoming a custom cabinet maker.

“It was an economically driven decision,” said Kovach, noting that the construction industry was still reeling from the recession when she shut down her company. “It used to be fun to build homes, but it just became too difficult and more of a hassle.”

Windswept Custom Homes is among the hundreds of home builders in Massachusetts — and thousands across the country — that have vanished in the decade since the housing boom went bust. Membership in the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts has plunged to about 1,500 companies, a 44 percent drop from the prerecession peak of 2,700 in 2006. During that period, membership at the National Association of Home Builders dove 47 percent to about 30,000 companies from 57,000.

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