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How housing quality is measured in New Zealand

No existing data sources comprehensively cover all the key aspects of housing quality; however, some information is available. Currently, the five yearly BRANZ house condition survey is the best source of objective housing quality measures, while the New Zealand General Social Survey is the only survey that collects self-reported housing quality at a national level.

This chapter presents information about the available data sources for housing quality in New Zealand: 

Census pre-1980

Before the 1980s, the Census of Population and Dwellings collected information on housing quality, including material of outer walls and roof, source of water supply, and provision of amenities such as flushing toilets and electricity. The 1981 Census was the last to collect this information. Currently, the census collects the following information about housing: dwelling type, number of storeys, number of rooms and bedrooms, and fuels used to heat the dwelling.

See C2013 Census definitions and forms to read the questionnaire forms.

Data collected or funded by public sector agencies

This section presents nine data sources for housing quality information currently collected or funded by New Zealand public sector agencies. The content mostly comes from the 2009 Review of Housing Statistics (Statistics NZ, 2009b), but we have updated some information to account for known changes since 2009.

EECA database

Sample size / coverage: Administrative data.
Frequency: Ongoing, since 2009.
Geographic coverage: Subnational.
Key housing variables (relating to housing)
Database of dwellings insulated under the Warm up New Zealand: Heat Smart policy initiative (around 230,000 houses). Further funding was allocated in 2013 to improve 41,500 low-income households under the Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes initiative.

See EECA – Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority for more information.

Growing up in New Zealand (funded by multiple government departments)

Sample size / coverage: Approximately 7,000 children born in the Auckland and Waikato regions and their families who were born between April 2009 and March 2010.
Frequency: Longitudinal (as long as funded).
Geographic coverage: Originally Auckland- and Waikato-based, but follows families anywhere in New Zealand if they move.
Key housing quality indicators measured

See About Growing Up in New Zealand for more information about this data source.

Household Energy End-Use Project (BRANZ)

Sample size / coverage: One-off survey of 400 dwellings over five years.
Frequency: Pilot run in 1995, full survey completed in 2005. Each house was monitored over 11 months.
Geographic coverage: National.
Key housing quality indicators measured
Dwelling type, dwelling age, tenure, dwelling construction materials, number of rooms, floor area, amount of insulation, fuels used, room temperatures, climate factors, shading, characteristics of appliances and consumption of energy, duration and patterns of energy use, attitudes to energy use, and awareness of energy issues.

See Household Energy End-Use Project for more information about this data source.

Household Sustainability Benchmark Survey (Ministry for the Environment)

Sample size / coverage: 1,000 people.
Frequency: Survey run in 2007 and 2008.
Geographic coverage: National.
Key housing quality indicators measured
Includes actions, attitudes, and barriers to energy/heating and water use, and building and renovating. 
See Household sustainability survey 2008 (PDF, 89 pages, 2.4mb) for more information about this data source.

Housing, Crowding and Health Study (HNZC and Wellington School of Medicine)

Sample size / coverage: Survey of all HNZC tenants applicants.
Frequency: One-off survey carried out over five years from 2003.
Geographic coverage: National.
Key housing quality indicators measured
Characteristics of HNZC applicants and tenants; household-crowding levels; and rates of hospitalisation for diseases such as meningococcal disease, pneumonia, and skin infections related to the housing environment. Explores factors such as crowding levels and tobacco smoke exposure in the home.

See How does housing affect your health? (PDF, 2 pages, 1.5mb) for more information about this data source.

Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC) – formerly Rental database

Sample size / coverage: Administrative data – HNZC properties, income-related rent applicants.
Frequency: Ongoing since 1993.
Geographic coverage: National – down to area unit
Key housing quality indicators measured
Housing career (including reason for moving), dwelling type, dwelling age, floor area, number of storeys, number of rooms and bedrooms, rent amount, length of tenure, maintenance/repairs, land size, site type, and geographic location.

Contact Housing New Zealand for more information about this data source.

New Zealand House Condition Survey (BRANZ)

Sample size / coverage: 491 dwellings in 2010.
Frequency: 4–5-yearly, since 1993/4 Geographic coverage: National and subnational.
Key housing quality indicators measured
Number of storeys, number of rooms, floor area, house layout, building materials, air tightness, insulation, moisture problems, heating, maintenance costs, security measures, tenure, household income, number of bedrooms, number of usual residents, age, and household type.

See BRANZ 2010 house condition survey – condition comparison by tenure (PDF, 37 pages, 1.4mb) for more information about this data source.

New Zealand InfoBase sales record data (Quotable Value)

Sample size / coverage: Administrative.
Frequency: Ongoing, data goes back to the 1970s.
Geographic coverage: National.
Key housing quality indicators measured
Dwelling type, capital valuation, sales history, land area, floor area, age of property, wall construction, value and nature of improvements, sale date, sale price, location, and physical characteristics including building condition (but physical characteristics largely out of date).

See www.qv.co.nz for more information about this data source.

New Zealand Living Standards Survey (Ministry of Social Development)

Sample size / coverage: Between 3,000 and 5,000 people in each survey.
Frequency: Surveys carried out in 2000, 2004, and 2008.
Geographic coverage: National.
Key housing quality indicators measured
Length of tenure, number of changes of address in last five years, tenure type sector of landlord, government valuation of property, total debt owed on house/flat, amount paid for accommodation, housing problems, and suitability of accommodation for family’s needs.

See Living Standards Research for more information about this data source.

New Zealand Property Investment Survey

Sample size / coverage: 852 responses to survey in 2012. New Zealand Property Investors Federation in conjunction with other partners (currently ANZ Bank).
Frequency: Annual. However, questions may vary from survey to survey. 2012 survey asked landlords about insulation
Geographic coverage: National.
Key housing quality indicators measured
Insulation and form of heating supplied. Note: Information must be treated with caution because of low response rates and self-selected sample.

See Survey shows that rental properties are well insulated for more information about this data source.

Data collected by Statistics NZ

Census of Population and Dwellings

Sample size / coverage: Total population of people and dwellings.
Frequency: Five-yearly, since 1851. Except for 1931, 1941, and 2011. The 2011 Census was cancelled because of the earthquakes of 22 February 2011. A census was consequently held in 2013 (a seven-year gap).
Geographic coverage: National and subnational to all levels.
Key housing quality indicators measured
The census historically contained information about material of walls and roofs – but not since 1981.

The census also historically contained information about amenities (electricity, bathrooms, appliances etc) before the 1970s. Some information remains about dwelling characteristics. Information on amenity variables is limited, but includes main means of heating.

See Information about the census for more information about this data source.

Household Economic Survey

Sample size / coverage: Around 3,000 households (achieved sample).
Frequency: Survey began in 1974. Housing costs and income available annually from 2006/07.
Geographic coverage: National.
Key housing quality indicators measured
Expenditure (three-yearly) on a range of housing-related items such as heating and maintenance. Annual data on mortgage details, type of dwelling, number of rooms, tenure, landlord, rent payments, value of property, and ownership of amenities.

See Household Economic Survey for more information about this data source.

New Zealand General Social Survey

Sample size / coverage: 8,000 people.
Frequency: Two-yearly from 2008.
Geographic coverage: National (limited regional breakdown).
Key housing quality indicators measured
Dwelling tenure, sector of landlord, number of bedrooms, satisfaction with housing, and problems with housing.

See New Zealand General Social Survey for more information about this data source.

New Zealand Household Disability Survey

Sample size / coverage: 23,000 adults/children answered the Household Disability Survey, and 1,000 answered the Residential Facilities survey.
Frequency: Post-censal survey (ie every five years) since 1996.
Geographic coverage: National – some regional breakdown.
Key housing quality indicators measured
Unmet need for repairs/maintenance to home, reasons for unmet need, receipt of financial assistance towards accommodation costs, use of special features to enter/leave/move about home, unmet need for special features to enter/leave/move about home, and reasons for unmet need.

See Disability Survey for more information about this data source.

Survey of Family, Income, and Employment

Sample size / coverage: 10,000 households (approximately 20,000 people).
Frequency: Annual, 2003–2010, longitudinal survey eight ‘waves’ of interviews.
Geographic coverage: national but some limited geographic disaggregation may be possible.
Key housing quality indicators measured
Tenure of dwelling, mortgage outgoings, rent payments, rates payments, whether dwelling is part of a multi-dwelling block, body corporate payments, number of bedrooms, and presence in dwelling of amenities (eg dishwasher, clothes dryer, automatic washing machine).

See Survey of Family, Income, and Employment for more information about this data source.

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