Purpose – Much of the research into the development of home within the business literature has looked at home as a setting or a construct instead of as a process. Additionally, extant research has explored the process of homebuilding within the context of homeownership, often defining home in terms of a place that is owned by the individual living in it. However, nearly 30 percent of all housing units in which people live are rented spaces that are owned by others not living there. The purpose of this paper is to examine homebuilding as a process that can and often does occur in properties that the individual does not own.
Design/methodology/approach – Using a phenomenological approach, in-depth interviews with renters lead to the development of a conceptual model of how renters build a sense of ‘home.’
Findings – The paper finds that though ownership does play a part in some individuals’ sense of home, apartment dwellers often are able to build a “home” within an apartment context.
Research limitations/implications – Limitations of the research include the small sample size; however, the process resulting from a small size may be used to develop hypotheses for future quantitative research.
Practical implications – The process outlined here may provide apartment communities and managers with insight into how they may retain tenants.
Originality/value – This paper focuses on an understanding of home that removes the notion of ownership from its definition, providing insight into how consumers build a sense of home in places they may not be able to physically alter.

Authors: Aubrey R. Fowler III and Clifford A. Lipscomb

Originally published in the International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis, Vol. 3, No. 2 (2010)

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