Scottish Household Survey 2021: methodology and fieldwork outcomes

Methodology of the 2021 Scottish Household Survey and information on fieldwork targets and outcomes.

Physical fieldwork and physical survey form

Physical survey team

The physical survey team comprised 60 surveyors and 4 Regional Managers. The Regional Managers also acted as surveyors.

Surveyors are required to be fully professionally qualified. They were recruited from a variety of different dwelling-related professions: chartered surveyors, architects, civil and structural engineers, environmental health officers and building control officers.

New recruits attend a five-day residential training course, including fieldwork practice, so that they are fully proficient with the methodology used in the SHCS.

The role of the Regional Manager is to ensure the quality of the surveyor data. They oversee the work of each of their surveyors, and accompany all new surveyors on at least two inspections.

Types of physical survey

There are usually three different types of physical survey:

  • Full surveys - A visual inspection of both the inside and outside of a property. The surveyor is required to complete all parts of the physical survey form. Surveyors take four photographs to accompany each full physical survey: one each of the front and the back of the property, and two of the surrounding area.
  • Dwelling description - A short physical survey that provides a summary of the property only, and one photograph. This is carried out if the dwelling is vacant or a second/holiday home, if no contact with the householder has been possible, or if the householder completed the social survey but after at least 4 attempts a full physical survey cannot be completed.
  • Abbreviated dwelling description - Collects information on the age and type of dwelling only. This is carried out if the householder refuses to take part in the social survey.

However, in 2021, no dwelling descriptions or abbreviated dwelling descriptions were carried out, and full surveys were replaced with 'external+' surveys. Surveyors did not enter dwellings, or internal common parts of common blocks such as tenement stairs. A visual inspection of the outside of the property was supplemented with data from Energy Performance Certificates and householders providing information to surveyors over the telephone.

The physical fieldwork took place in COVID protection levels 0, 1 and 2 only. Households living in level 3+ areas were still be invited to participate in the external physical survey, but the appointment was banked and carried out only once the area has returned to a lower protection level. No summary surveys (Dwelling Descriptions and Abbreviated Dwelling Descriptions) were collected.

Physical survey form

The SHS physical survey is a dwelling-based survey of the home and surrounding area and uses a paper form formatted for use with digital pens.

The physical survey form can be found in the technical reports section of the current SHCS website. The survey form included sections relating to:

  • type, age and size of the dwelling
  • types of defects
  • basic amenities
  • heating systems and insulation
  • dwelling measurements
  • external construction and materials used
  • external repairs required
  • Statutory Action and Tolerable Standards



Back to top