Danskerne i det byggede miljø / Danes in the built environment is a detailed annual survey that asks Danes about their homes.
Information for the most recent report was gathered in April 2018 when 7,090 people completed a questionnaire from Kantar Gallup A/S for Bolius. The results have been published by Realdania and the most recent edition is now available on line.
These surveys have been conducted each year since 2012 so they now provide an important data base but they also track changing attitudes so they should influence decisions by planners and should prompt architects, builders and designers to assess carefully the real problems people encounter because the surveys show how people perceive problems and show how these are prioritised.
The survey is published with general points and summaries but most of the information is set out in a large number of tables. These provide a fascinating insight not just into day-to-day practical problems people have and about the way they complete maintenance and repairs but also broader issues about neighbourhoods - about what makes a good neighbourhood - and how all these factors together influence how people rate the quality of their lives.
More than 6 out of 10 Danes believe that their home is important when they consider the quality of their life … for 22% of Danes their home is of very high importance and for a further 41% their home is of high importance when they consider the quality of their lives.
It is interesting that large numbers are concerned about problems with general maintenance - in fact around 90% - and least concerned about problems with buying or selling a home.
Danes are concerned most about mould and about burglary … and more in Northern Jutland than in other parts of Denmark. To this should be added that tenants are also concerned about rising rents so, from the most recent survey, over 50% of tenants are concerned about rising rents; 30% are concerned about mould and a similar percentage are concerned about a bad neighbourhood.
Further down the list are concerns about bad neighbours and lower still problems with hidden electrics and hidden piping.
There also seem to be major concerns about what is described in the survey as poor indoor climate - so ventilation and, as a consequence, mould or fungi and, along with problems with poor neighbours, these concerns are more significant for families with children.
summary of concerns:
Ventilation and cold 22.5%
Cold walls 18.2%
Condensation and mould 13.9%
Heat or too high temperature 7.0%
Daylight (too much or too little) 6.3%
Smoke (from kitchen, wood-burning stove, fireplace, etc.) 6%
Dust and house dust mites 5.8%
Poor air quality 5.3%
Radon from underground 1.2%
On first looking through the tables there appear to be some strange contradictions so seven out of 10 Danes are satisfied with their neighbours and their neighbourhood but, on the other hand, every third Dane admits that they hardly know or don't know their neighbours.
To be more positive, one in five have street parties or garden or courtyard parties with their neighbours.
Even in terms of social life in a neighbourhood, there are some interesting differences, depending on the type of home, so 20% of Danes who own their home actually invite neighbours for a meal but in a housing co-operative - where being sociable might be considered to be more important - only 15% invite their neighbours round for a meal although that is better than where people are renting and only 10% invite their neighbours for a meal.
Generally, older Danes say that they are satisfied with their neighbourhood. Does that mark a change over generations - with younger people having less connection with the place where they live or different priorities and a different focus for social life - or does it suggest that feeling settled in a neighbourhood takes longer than might be assumed?
There is a fairly uniform satisfaction across all levels of education and nor does income have a clear connection with good neighbourliness. It is interesting that the people most dissatisfied with their neighbours and their neighbourhoods are those with the highest and the lowest household incomes.
People in the survey indicated that a better choice of shops is important for 18% of Danes - as an average across the survey - but it varied across the country with 24% in rural areas but less, so around 15%, in the city and across the whole survey 16% think restaurants are important so relatively high in general priorities.
In comparison only 6% see better broad band as a priority (10% in rural area and 5% in cities) but this might simply reflect a general satisfaction for present services that seem to be relatively good. In the same way, better schools are a priority for just 4% and better day care for 1.5% but this, presumably, does not suggest that education is well down the list of priorities because Danes do not care about schools and day care but must reflect tangible and clear improvements over recent decades so now, generally across the country, the provision of day care and nursery and then schools is of a high quality and so no longer a major concern.
Although "proximity to nature" is given frequently as an explanation for a choice of home, only every sixth Danes make use of nature or natural areas on a daily basis, and only 40% seek out nature at least once a week.
Again it is probably not surprising that the region of Southern Denmark has the largest share of citizens who use outdoor areas in their neighbourhood most frequently.
In apartments people seem to have higher levels of concern over most categories … 30% are concerned about ventilation and cold, 25% complained about cold walls and 15% about moisture and mould and curiously 8% are concerned about being too hot while 10% are concerned about too little or too much daylight in their home.
In more general questions, people living in older homes, as you might expect, tend to be concerned about cold and people in properties built after 2000 tend to be concerned more about being too warm and occupants of modern homes also tend to be more concerned about air quality.
For homes built before 1930, 24% are concerned about cold walls but for homes built after 2000 that has dropped to just over 4%.
Conversely, feeling too hot in their home was the concern of 5% in homes built before 1930 but 14% in modern home so presumably that suggests modern insulation is good but it is difficult to get the balance right. Possibly, local or district heating systems are not as easy to control but it is interesting that older people opened doors and windows most often to improve ventilation.
For admirers of the Danish concept of hygge, perhaps the most worrying statistic suggests that 12% of Danish households have cut down on using hearths, stoves and candles because they are concerned about air quality.
There are some marked differences by age so it is obvious that younger people tend to consult the internet rather than family or friends about maintenance problems but, across the age ranges, the use of craftsmen to do work has declined from 67% in 2014 to 60% in 2018 so, presumably, DIY in Denmark is on the increase.
If all this seems to suggest that Danes fret about their homes then across the survey, on a score of 1 to 10, general levels of satisfaction with the quality of homes ranged from 6.7 to 8.2.
Finally there were some general statistics that should interest designers and builders because only 21% of the participants in the survey indicated that they felt that maintenance or building work should make the home more up to date and, overall since the surveys began, there had been a decline in number of people undertaking major refurbishments.
Perhaps Danes are less concerned about fashion than magazines and blogs might suggest and rather more concerned about very practical aspects of comfort.