How we carry out the House Condition Survey

This page gives information about how we collected the data for the 2016 HCS. More detailed information can be found in the technical appendices of the main reports.

The Sample

  • The total number of dwellings selected for participation in the 2016 HCS was 3,000.

The 2016 sample included two elements:

  • A resample element, which provides a longitudinal analysis of changes in the housing stock including tenure. This consists of a re-survey of approximately 1,400 properties fully surveyed in 2011.
  • A fresh sample of approximately 1,600 properties taken from the Pointer database held by NISRA.
  • The process of weighting and grossing will ensure final figures reflect the actual housing stock.


  • An electronic approach to data collection and validation was first applied in the 2009 HCS and refined in 2011. The 2016 HCS used newer tablets that had become available on the market and a detailed investigation found the ‘Microsoft Surface 3’ to offer the best features in terms of value for money, weight, battery life, toughness and usability.
  • The added functionality provided by the tablet over traditional paper forms, in particular on-site keying of data and validation, maximised the quality of the data collected and reduced the time spent investigating missing data and punching errors.
  • In addition, the tablet permitted a faster turnaround of the survey results with tabular results available at least six months ahead of earlier methods using paper forms.

The E-Survey Form

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

The Physical Survey

A detailed technical survey form was completed for each property where the surveyor gained access. The surveyor completed an inspection of the interior and exterior of the house, as well as inspecting the front and back plot of the survey dwelling and making an assessment of the local neighbourhood.
Key information was gathered in the physical section to 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 carried out a short interview with the householder or partner (if applicable). Information was 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 helps us to assess the housing needs of particular groups such as the elderly, families with young children, single person and low income households, as information from the social survey is cross-referenced with elements from the physical survey.This gives an indication of the types of households living in dwellings which are in the poorest condition, those that fail the Decent Homes Standard or the HHSRS, or those designated as fuel poor.



In 2016, a total of 19 surveyors were employed to work on the Survey, all of whom have worked on previous House Condition Surveys. The surveyors employed were either Environmental Health Officers, chartered surveyors or architects. Five supervisors were appointed and were responsible for quality assuring the work of the surveyors.


A training course was held in May 2016 and was conducted by staff from the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the Housing Executive’s Research Unit and 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 and to update surveyors on enhancements to the hardware and software.

In the field

Letters and leaflets were 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