An evaluation and comparison of the livability of prototypical and conventional house types: the development and testing of a methodology

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The purpose of the study was to develop a methodology for evaluating the livability of single-family houses and to test it on conventional and prototypical house types. The House Plan Evaluation Checklist and the Housing Satisfaction Scale were developed and analyzed for content validity using the responses of randomly selected housing professionals. Once the instrumsnts were revised they were used to evaluate the Benchmark house type (FmHA plan no. H5-41) and the Solar Attic house type (Cooperative Extension Plan Service experimental plan no. 7220). A randomly selected sample of 32 housing professionals evaluated the plans of these houses using the Hause Plan Evaluation Checklist. They rated the Solar Attic plan significantly higher on five of ten subscales. All of the subscales of the House Plan Evaluation Checklist had high inter-rater reliability when used by the housing professionals to rate the Benchmark house and the majority of the subscales also had high inter-rater reliability when used to rate the Solar Attic plan.

The Housing Satisfaction Scale and an interview schedule were used with samples of 15 Benchmark and 15 Solar Attic residents to obtain information about their housing satisfaction and demographic, housing, and energy characteristics. The Solar Attic residents rated their satisfaction with their housing significantly higher than the Benchmark residents on five of 13 Housing Satisfaction subscales. The Benchmark residents had significantly more female heads of households, less educated heads of households, and lower income households. Their housing was older, smaller and the residents had lived there longer. They used more electrical energy, although their housing had many of the same energy-saving features as the Solar Attic houses. The subscales of the Housing Satisfaction Scale had inconsistent inter-rater reliability when used by the residents of both house types to rate their satisfaction, but they had high internal consistency reliability ratings on all but the Cost subscale.