Understanding the Format

Level I Basic Survey

This basic format is suggested for documenting case examples to facilitate comparison. The format is deliberately simple, yet it summarizes the key issues in understanding the process of incremental housing growth.

The goal is to summarize information for each case on one page.

Typical Data Sheet

(composite to illustrate format)
(POSTER SUMMARY - 20” x 30” - ‘B2’’)

Level 1 Basic SurveyHEADING

The basic identifiers for the case.
Type of area: Formal/informal
Previous squatter, site and services, upgrading project, or independent.
City, country.
Relative location: original and current
Case Identification (use identifier in place of name)


Links four key elements in the process:
Time: bottom access
Family size: number
Household income: multiples of minimum income
Number of rooms: bedrooms, living rooms, kitchen, bath each count as ‘1’.
Key changes: title, mortgage, etc.


For each stage, a short summary of basic information along with a sketch of the layout.
Trigger/catalyst: why did the expansion occur at this time, reason?
How built: materials, who built (assistance or self-help, etc.)
Issues: What were the biggest difficulties, the biggest obstacles? What cost the most?
Family circumstance: employment, family description: children, parents, grandparents, relatives, other.
Services: what available, how supplied, costs
Costs: estimation of direct outlay, estimation, self-help/volunteer input (days),. And ask: “For how much could you sell your house?”


Initial move-in provision. Makeshift shelter, shack, core house.
Tenure situation - illegal, extralegal
Payments for occupation, permits.
Services: water, sewage, electricity; cooking, light, heating? Other?


(on separate page)
Beginning provision: shack, core house
Current views: front, 3/4 front, front with family; interior