Builtyr2 accuracy as estimate of residential construction

Generally construction lags permits. I was interested in constructing a dataset that could compare the number of permits issued using published data from the census with new construction. Permitting data by metro area/county/state is readily available from the Census BPS. But actual new construction is not.

I was wondering then if the builtyr2 metric, assigned to a household, could be used to estimate new residential construction numbers. But I’m unsure if data is structured such that this is possible.

Thanks in advance.

BUILTYR2 provides the year (or general time period) that the respondent reported that their housing unit was built in. Since respondents often relied on their memory or estimation to arrive at an answer, this variable is particularly susceptible to response errors and non-reporting. However, it can be used to estimate new construction numbers. Users should be aware that small sample sizes will increase the standard error of their estimates. Researchers should use household weights (HHWT) in order to obtain statistics that are representative of the general population (see the FAQ for more information about weights) as well as replicate weights (REPWT) for empirically derived standard error of calculated statistics (see this user guide on replicate weights with sample code).

You will want to download an extract with household records only. This option is available from the extract request page after adding samples and variables to your data cart (see screenshot below). Requesting an extract with household records will include records of vacant units that are not provided with person-level extracts and increase your sample size. It will also restrict your sample to one observation per household, which is required for housing unit level analysis.

If you are interested in accessing geographically aggregated statistics (rather than individual microdata), you may alternatively be interested in accessing Census Bureau ACS summary tables on IPUMS NHGIS. You can filter tables by topic, including the year the housing unit was built, year, geographic area, and dataset using the Data Finder tool.

Thanks! I had poked around a bit with Census data and some available new construction data for specific geographies, and found it aligned well. Within the error range from published Census ACS tables. With the one caveat that data for the current year, i.e. estimates where BUILTYR2 aligned with the data collection year, were always substantially lower than actual and then would show up for that year in subsequent ACS.