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House Condition Survey

Updated: 20 Apr 2014
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The survey looks at both social and private housing
Belvoir Estate in South East Belfast

2011 House Condition Survey

The Northern Ireland House Condition Survey main report is now available.
The 2011 Survey was completed using mobile field computers. This technology was first employed for the 2009 HCS and was reviewed and enhanced for 2011. Benefits achieved by moving to the e-form include administrative efficiencies in the collection of data, an improvement in data quality and a faster turn-around of survey results. Key stock findings are presented here four months after the fieldwork was completed.

Objectives

The key objectives for the 2011 Northern Ireland House Condition Survey are:
  • To provide a comprehensive picture of the dwelling stock and its condition in 2011 for Northern Ireland and each of the 26 District Councils;
  • To facilitate a comparative analysis of housing conditions in Northern Ireland with other parts of the UK;
  • To examine the association between dwelling conditions and the social and economic circumstances of households;
  • To examine changes in the condition of the stock over time in terms of key Government measures: Decent Homes and the Housing Health and Safety Rating Standard;
  • To provide a reliable assessment of the energy efficiency of the stock and the level of Fuel Poverty in Northern Ireland on a comparable basis with the rest of the UK.
The objectives have remained broadly consistent with those in 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2009.
The HCS is used to help guide housing investment and maintenance strategies and it provides the only reliable, consistent source of data for measuring key Government indicators: Decent Homes, Fuel Poverty and the Housing Health and Safety Rating.
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) has replaced the Fitness Standard in England but so far has not been adopted in Northern Ireland.
The first measurement of what proportion and type of housing stock failed the HHSRS in Northern Ireland was undertaken on the basis of the 2001 HCS, following a review and an update of the system, it was then assessed again on the basis of the 2006 and 2009 NI HCS. The 2011 HCS will provide updated figures for Northern Ireland.
The HCS will also provide updated profiles of key sub sectors of the market, in particular the private rented sector, as well as providing robust housing and socio-economic information for use in the assessment of future housing needs.

Progress

The E-HCS

Building on the 2009 application of electronic technology, in relation to the data collection and validation elements of the HCS, the 2011 survey  is being undertaken using a full form on a tablet PC (Motion 5) with built in field validation and uploading of data via a website to a database.
Further cost savings will be realized in the elimination of the manual punching of the survey forms (including double punching), scanning and secondary validation and the design, production and printing of paper survey forms and also in time spent investigating missing data and punching errors.    
The electronic approach permits a faster turn around of survey results with 2009 tabular results posted to the web a full six months earlier than for 2006.     

The sample

One significant area of change will be in relation to the sample. Given the budgetary pressures it was agreed that the sample should be reduced from 3,000 in 2009 to approximately 2,000 in 2011. On its own this would make it impossible to deliver robust figures for the housing conditions for each of the District Councils. However, the HCS team in partnership with NISRA Census team will develop a linear regression model using ‘paired cases’ which will enable District Council based data to be produced.
The total number of dwellings selected for participation in the HCS was 2,030. This included 70 properties in each of Northern Ireland’s district council areas outside Belfast with 280 selected for the Belfast area (70 in North, East, South and West Belfast).
The 2011 House Condition Survey used a fresh sample drawn from the sampling survey database held by NISRA. There was no resample element to the sample.  
The process of weighting and grossing will ensure final figures reflect the actual housing stock.

The E-Survey Form

The E-Survey form broadly remains the same as previous paper surveys and can be divided into two components: The physical survey and the social survey or household interview.

The Physical Survey

A detailed technical survey form is filled in for each property where the surveyor has gained access. The surveyor completes an inspection of the interior and exterior of the house. The surveyor also inspects the front and back plot of the survey dwelling and makes an assessment of the local neighbourhood.
Key information is gathered in the physical section which will allow measurement of repairs costs, the Fitness Standard, The Decent Homes Standard, Fuel Poverty, SAP and the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

The Social Survey

The surveyor also carries out a short interview with the householder or partner (if applicable). Information is gathered on a range of issues including:
  • housing history
  • home improvements
  • heating in the home
  • household demographics including information on members of the household with a disability
This information will help assess the housing needs of particular groups such as the elderly, families with young children, single person and low income households. Information from the social survey will be cross referenced with elements from the physical survey.

This will give an indication of the types of households living in dwellings which are in the poorest condition, in those which fail The Decent Homes Standard, The HHSRS or in those designated as fuel poor.

Fieldwork

Surveyors

A total of 18 surveyors were employed to work on the Survey. All of whom worked on the 2006 and 2009 HCS. The surveyors employed are either Environmental Health Officers or chartered surveyors. Four supervisors have been appointed and are responsible for quality assuring the work of the surveyors.

Training

A training course was held in May 2011 and was conducted by staff from the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the Housing Executive’s Research Unit and by the HCS supervisors. The aim of the training was to update the surveyors on changes to the form in terms of new information to be recorded (mostly relating to new energy questions) and to update surveyors on enhancements to the software. The training also provided an in-depth refresher on the HHSRS and energy features.

In the field

Letters and leaflets are sent to all households selected a few weeks before the surveyor calls.
Contact Details
If you would like further information on the survey or have any comments to make, please contact:
Project leader - Jahnet Brown
The Housing Centre
2 Adelaide Street
Belfast BT2 8PB

2009 House condition survey

The 2009 report is now ready to download.

2006 House conditions survey

The 2006 Report is now available. Reports can also be requested by contacting the Research Unit.
The 2006 survey provides figures for unfitness in the housing stock, the Decent Homes Standard, fuel poverty and the Housing Health and Safety Rating system.The survey covers all tenures and types of housing including owner occupied and rented housing, vacant dwellings, houses in multiple occupation, flats and sheltered accommodation.
Parallel surveys are also conducted in England, Scotland and Wales.

Previous housing condition surveys

We have conducted a house condition survey every five years in Northern Ireland since 1974. The survey provides a comprehensive insight into housing in Northern Ireland. It provides key information which helps develop housing policy and target resources where they are most needed. An interim house condition survey was carried out in 2004. The statistical annex for this survey is also available.