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New Zealand’s House Condition Survey

What is the House Condition Survey?

Completed every five years since 1994, the House Condition Survey is a comprehensive survey of New Zealand’s housing stock. It provides detailed data on physical property characteristics, including how well homes are maintained and the general conditions people are living in.  

The latest survey was undertaken in 2015/16 by BRANZ, with funding from the Building Research Levy, the Ministry for Building, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA). It surveyed 560 standalone owned and rented houses throughout New Zealand.

How is the survey completed?

The House Condition Survey has evolved over the years to meet changing needs. For example, the survey was initially only undertaken in the three major cities (Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington) and on owner-occupied housing. Since 2010 however, the survey has been extended to nationwide coverage to include provincial and rural areas, and to include rental houses. 

The sampling framework for the previous two House Condition Surveys was designed to be broadly representative of the national housing stock. It includes both owner-occupied and rental housing but not apartments. 

Survey tools

The survey comprises an on-site assessment of the house by a trained surveyor and a telephone interview with a household occupant. New to the 2015/16 survey was a householder self-completion appliance-use questionnaire, commissioned by EECA. 

The on-site assessment examines all areas of the house, both inside and out, and some features external to the property.    

The survey includes assessing the condition of up to 49 different components or features of the house. This uses a condition rating scale which is explicitly linked to the presence of defects and need for repair and maintenance. 

The condition ratings given are: 

  • Serious – health and safety implications; needs immediate attention
  • Poor – needs attention within 3 months
  • Moderate – will need attention within the next 2 years
  • Good – very few defects; near-new condition
  • Excellent – no defects; as-new condition. 

House condition survey physical house assessment

Why is the survey undertaken?

An enormous wealth of data comes out of the survey. The survey provides information on: 

  • Materials, heating, and energy efficiency
  • Indicators of indoor environmental quality (damp and mould)
  • Assessments of the conditions people are living in/with (interior and exterior of the house)
  • The extent of and need for housing repairs and maintenance
  • Trends in stock condition over time
  • Since 2010, differences between tenures (owner-occupied vs rented houses).

Each year initial results are published in a headline report. You can find links to all House Condition Survey reports, dating back to 1995, below. 

Themed articles and reports are also available through the links below.

These reports and information from the House Condition Survey are used by the building industry, tertiary institutes, government departments and ministries, local authorities and NGOs.

The data helps inform local and central government policy and regulations, public education campaigns, further research (including further BRANZ research), health promotion and building product choices. It is also used to create information for individual householders such as the Maintaining Your Home guide and energy efficiency information.  

The overall aim of the survey is to provide information to help develop understanding of the issues affecting and opportunities to improve and maintain our housing stock. 

Why should we care?

New Zealand has made a big investment in increasing its housing stock and we need to ensure that stock is well maintained and providing safe, warm, dry, healthy places to live.

At an individual level, householders need to protect their investment i.e. take regular steps to protect their property from elements and natural disasters. Research has shown that proactive, regular maintenance is cheaper compared to cost of deferred maintenance. 

As more than 90% of people in New Zealand live in homes over seven years old, the need for regular maintenance affects most of us. Everyone – house owners, tenants, building industry, government, not-for-profits – has a role in helping protect our homes for future generations. 

5th House Condition Survey 2015 results
2015, 2010, 2005, 2000 and 1995 reports