The WHCS is being conducted on behalf of the Welsh Government by the Building Research Establishment Ltd. The WHCS will survey approximately 2,500 properties over a period of 9 months, starting in August 2017. The survey sample is taken from the National Survey for Wales 2017-18 which is run on behalf of the Welsh Government by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Ahead of the start of the main survey a pilot study was conducted to enable the testing all processes and procedures, replicating main fieldwork practices as much as possible. The pilot for the WHCS was held in May 2017, with fieldwork lasting 2 weeks and was carried out by surveyor who were to be regional managers for main fieldwork. The 4 regional managers were briefed on the survey, the survey tools and the management software they were to test during fieldwork.
The sample was selected from eligible cases from the National Survey where consent to a physical inspection had been gained during their first month of fieldwork in April 2017. To be eligible for the pilot, households had to have taken part in the National Survey interview, be in a rented property or a property with some disrepair or an owner occupier in good condition. Disrepair was assessed by the ONS interviewers on their first visit to an address. They were fully briefed prior to the start of fieldwork on how to assess this. The consent rate to a physical inspection achieved during the pilot period was 66%. In total, 87 households consented and were passed through to BRE for a physical inspection. These were spread across the 4 regional managers working in the 3 local authorities of Swansea, Flintshire and Wrexham. During the fieldwork period 43 completed surveys were achieved at a conversion rate of 49%.
A face-to-face debriefing session was held with the regional managers to collect feedback on the pilot, including which aspects of the survey form, systems and processes worked well and where amendments needed to be made. The regional managers all reported that the pilot worked well and that there were no major problems with the survey form, respondent materials, systems or processes. Minor suggestions were made to alter the position of some questions on the survey form and to change some responses to re-contact questions within the National Survey interview.