Assessing Housing Durability: A Pilot Study
Durability is one of the least understood attributes of the nation's housing stock. Although many attempts have been made to provide solutions to real and perceived durability problems, little has been done to benchmark and monitor the durability of U.S. housing. Such information can provide the proper focus and perspective for improving housing durability while avoiding costly mistakes that may adversely affect the affordability or longevity of homes.
In response to the lack of information, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development commissioned a pilot study of the durability performance of a representative sample of homes in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. This report presents the findings of facts from this pilot study and provides useful criticisms of the study methodology. The study reports several interesting statistics, cause-and-effect relationships, and observations on housing durability. The report also discusses lessons learned from the study with a view toward improved techniques should this effort be expanded to a regional or national level.
The findings of this study not only demonstrate the feasibility of benchmarking and monitoring the durability of the nation's housing stock but also reveal the importance of certain design, construction, maintenance, and environmental factors related to durability. These findings, however, must be tempered with the understanding that they are associated with a relatively small sample in one locality in the United States. The results of this pilot study should not be interpreted beyond the limits of the sampled houses and occupants.