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House Condition Survey

Completed approximately every 5 years from 1994 to 2015, the BRANZ House Condition Survey was a comprehensive survey of New Zealand's housing stock. It provides data on property characteristics, including how homes are maintained and the conditions people are living in.

The House Condition Survey provides an enormous wealth of data that helps us to identify issues with New Zealand's housing stock and opportunities to improve and maintain it. The survey provides detailed information on:

  • materials, heating and energy efficiency
  • indicators of indoor environmental quality (damp and mould)
  • assessments of the conditions people are living in (interior and exterior of the house)
  • the extent of and need for housing repairs and maintenance
  • trends in housing stock condition over time
  • differences between owner-occupied and rented houses (since 2010).

Why we conducted the survey

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

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

More than 90% of people in New Zealand live in homes over 7 years old, so the need for regular maintenance affects most of us. Everyone - homeowners, tenants, building industry, government, not-for-profit organisations - has a role in helping protect our homes for future generations.

Benefits to the building industry and homeowners

Reports and information from the House Condition Survey are used by the building industry, tertiary institutes, government departments and ministries, local authorities and non-governmental organisations. The data helps to inform:

  • local and central government policy and regulations
  • public education campaigns
  • further research (including BRANZ research)
  • health promotion
  • building product choices.

Survey findings have also been used to create information for individual homeowners, such as advice on improving home energy efficiency.

2015 House Condition Survey results

The latest survey was undertaken in 2015 by BRANZ with funding from the Building Research Levy, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

It involved surveying 560 stand-alone owned and rented houses throughout New Zealand.

Evolving scope of the survey

The House Condition Survey evolved over the years to meet changing needs. For example, the survey was initially only undertaken in New Zealand's three major cities (Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington) and only on owner-occupied housing.

Since 2010, the survey was extended nationwide to cover provincial and rural areas and include rental houses.

The sampling framework for the 2010 and 2015 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 methods

The survey comprised an on-site assessment of the house by a trained surveyor and a telephone interview with a household occupant.

For the 2015 survey, a new questionnaire asked householders about energy use of their appliances. This questionnaire was commissioned by EECA.

On-site assessment

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

  • foundations and subfloor
  • exterior (walls, windows and doors)
  • interior (room linings and fittings)
  • roof
  • roof space
  • insulation
  • hot water cylinder
  • decks
  • carports, garages and sleepouts
  • paths, steps and ramps.

Condition rating scale

The survey includes assessing the condition of up to 49 different components or features of the house. This uses a condition rating scale that 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.

Updated: 06 May 2024