Structural Type of Dwelling and Collectives Reference Guide, 2011 Census

Definitions and concepts

The census counts dwellings for two main purposes. The first is to associate people with a spatial unit; otherwise, it would be impossible to enumerate persons once and only once. The second objective is to publish counts of the dwellings themselves, along with information about dwelling characteristics.

The dwelling universe consists of collective dwellings and private dwellings and is summarized in the Introduction to the dwelling universe found in the 2011 Census Dictionary, Catalogue no. 98-301-X. Complete definitions for each subuniverse are available in the Dwelling universe index of the 2011 Census Dictionary.

Structural type of dwelling refers to the structural characteristics and/or dwelling configuration. This variable is a dwelling characteristic variable collected for all private dwellings in Canada.

Collective dwelling is a dwelling used for commercial, institutional or communal purposes. In standard census products, data on collective dwelling are available for collective dwellings occupied by usual residents.

Classifications

Structural type of dwelling

The variable for structural type of dwelling classifies the private dwellings into the following nine mutually-exclusive categories: single-detached house, semi-detached house, row house, apartment or flat in a duplex, apartment in a building that has five or more storeys, apartment in a building that has fewer than five storeys, other single-attached house, mobile home and other movable dwelling.

The 2011 Census Dictionary, Catalogue no. 98-301-X provides a definition for every structural type of dwellings. These definitions reflect the information given to staff responsible for assigning the structural type. In addition to the definitions, these individuals had a picture representation of the definition in order to ensure consistency in the classification process across Canada.

Private Dwelling Type Codes - Definitions

This is a picture of a single-detached house

1. Single-detached house – A single dwelling not attached to any other dwelling or structure (except its own garage or shed.) A single-detached house has open space on all sides, and has no dwellings either above it or below it.

A mobile home fixed permanently to a foundation should be coded as a single-detached house (See Code 8.)

This is a picture of a 'semi-detached house.' A semi-detached house has a vertical division between units

2. Semi-detached house – One of the two dwellings attached side by side (or back to back) to each other, but not attached to any other dwelling or structure (except its own garage or shed.) A semi-detached dwelling has no dwellings either above it or below it and the two units, together, have open space on all sides.


This is a picture of a 'row house.' A row house has vertical divisions between units

3. Row house – One of three or more dwellings joined side by side (or occasionally side to back), such as a town house or garden home, but not having any other dwellings either above it or below.

If townhouses are attached to high-rise buildings, assign Code 3 to each townhouse.


This is a picture of an 'apartment or flat in a duplex.' Apartments or flats in a duplex have horizontal divisions between units

4. Apartment or flat in a duplex – One of two dwellings, located one above the other. If duplexes are attached to triplexes or other duplexes or to other non-residential structures (e.g. a store), assign Code 4 to each apartment or flat in the duplexes.


This is a picture of an 'apartment in a building that has five or more storeys' Apartments in a building that have five or more storeys have horizontal and vertical divisions between units

5. Apartment in a building that has five or more storeys – A dwelling unit in a high-rise apartment building which has five or more storeys.

Also included are apartments in a building that has five or more storeys where the first floor and/or second floor are commercial establishments.


This is a picture of an 'apartment in a building that has fewer than five storeys.' Apartments in a building that have fewer than five storeys have horizontal and vertical divisions between units

6. Apartment in a building that has fewer than five storeys – A dwelling unit attached to other dwelling units, commercial units, or other non-residential space in a building that has fewer than five storeys.


This is a picture of an 'other single-attached house.' Other single-attached houses have a vertical division between units

7. Other single-attached house – A single dwelling that is attached to another building and that does not fall into any of the other categories, such as a single dwelling attached to a non-residential structure (e.g. store or church) or occasionally to another residential structure (e.g. apartment building).


This is a picture of a mobile home

8. Mobile home – A single dwelling, designed and constructed to be transported on its own chassis and capable of being moved to a new location on short notice. It may be placed temporarily on a foundation pad and may be covered by a skirt.

A mobile home must meet the following two conditions:

  • It is designed and constructed to be transported on its base frame (or chassis) in one piece.
  • The dwelling can be moved on short notice. This dwelling can be easily relocated to a new location, because of the nature of its construction, by disconnecting it from services, attaching it to a standard wheel assembly and moving it without resorting to significant renovations and reconstructions.
This is a picture of an other movable dwelling

9. Other movable dwelling – A single dwelling, other than a mobile home used as a place of residence, but capable of being moved on short notice, such as a tent, recreational vehicle, travel trailer houseboat or floating home.

Collective dwellings

The 2011 Census also collected information about collective dwelling type. Collective dwellings are subdivided into institutional and non-institutional collectives.

Institutional collectives include general and specialty hospitals, chronic care and long­term care hospitals, nursing homes, group homes or institutions for the physically handicapped and treatment centres, group homes for children and youth, group homes or institution for people with psychiatric disorders or developmental disabilities, federal correctional institutions, provincial/territorial custodial facilities, young offenders' facilities, jails and police lock-up facilities, shelters for persons lacking a fixed address, shelters for abused women and children and other shelters and lodging with assistance.

Non-institutional collectives include residences for senior citizens, lodging and rooming houses, hotel, motels and tourist establishments, campgrounds and parks, school residences and training centre residences, work camps, other establishments with temporary accommodation services, religious establishments, military bases, commercial vessels, government vessels, Hutterite colonies and other collective dwellings.

The 2011 Census Dictionary, Catalogue no. 98-301-X provides a definition for every type of institutional and non­institutional collective dwellings.

For dissemination, collective dwelling types are organized in categories of collective dwellings. These categories are established based on a balance of data quality and historical comparability.

For the 2011 Census, the following information describes in more detail some categories of collective dwellings.

  1. 'Chronic and long-term care hospitals' is grouped with 'nursing homes' to avoid misclassification between these two collectives with similar services. 'Chronic and long-term care hospitals' is a small group, representing one-twentieth of the number of nursing homes; thus, a small number of changes in classification affects historical comparability for this group. Historical comparability of 'nursing homes' is not significantly affected by a small number of changes in classification between the two categories.
  2. 'Other establishments with temporary accommodation services' is grouped with 'hotels, motels and tourist establishments' to form 'hotels, motels and other establishments with temporary accommodation services' to avoid misclassification between these two collectives with similar services, i.e., both these categories are paid temporary accommodations for people travelling.
  3. The 'work camps' category is aggregated in the 'other collective dwellings' category. This category also includes 'military bases,' 'commercial and government vessels,' and 'other collective dwellings' such as outfitter camps.

Census questions

There is no specific question for structural type of dwellings or collective types. Data were coded by trained enumerators.

In order to better classify collective dwellings, a collective dwelling profile is completed by trained enumerators for every collective dwelling. The profiling questionnaire helps to obtain information about the collective dwelling such as services provided, the capacity and the existence of buildings associated with the facility. Based on this information, the census enumerator assigns the appropriate collective dwelling type.

Changes made to the 2011 Census

Structural type of dwelling

For the 2011 Census, the information for structural type of dwelling was validated or updated for approximately 55% of the dwellings, during the listing and census field operation activities leading up to Census Day. The structural type of dwelling information for the remaining 45% of dwellings included in the 2011 Census is based on data from the 2006 Census in areas with no or very little evidence of new construction. As a result, the quality of the structural type of dwelling information for these areas is considered of high quality.

Collective dwellings

In 2011, most of the collective dwelling types remain the same as in 2006. Only two types have changed from 2006 to 2011.

  1. The 2006 category 'facilities for persons with disability' has become 'group homes or institutions for the physically handicapped and treatment centres.' The 2006 category 'centres for children with psychiatric disorders' has become 'group homes or institutions for people with psychiatric disorders or developmental disabilities.' In 2011, instead of separating these collectives by the age of the clientele, it is now separated by type of disability: physical disabilities and addictions versus psychiatric and developmental disabilities.
  2. The 2006 categories 'other hospitals and related institutions' and 'general hospitals and hospitals with emergency' are now merged together in the collective dwelling type 'general and speciality hospitals.'

Although most collective dwelling types remained conceptually the same in 2011, some collective types have been renamed to better reflect what they represent.

  1. 'Jails' was changed to 'provincial and territorial custodial facilities' and 'police lock-up facility' is now 'jails and police lock-up facilities' to avoid confusion between 'jails' and 'police lock-ups.'
  2. To clarify the distinction between federal prisons and provincial custodial facilities, 'correctional and penal institutions' was renamed 'federal correctional institutions.' The distinction is linked to the sentences terms used in the correctional system (2 years or more for federal prisons). This helped correct some provincial facilities that were previously incorrectly classified as federal prisons.
  3. 'Establishments for delinquents and young offenders' was renamed 'young offenders' facilities.'

In addition to adjusting the names of some collective types, collections procedures were also reviewed and modified when necessary. The collection procedures were adjusted in order to get a clearer distinction between 'residences for senior citizens' and 'nursing homes,' according to the level of services offered. Processing procedures were also adjusted for 'residences for senior citizens' in order to obtain more information on individuals and couples living within 'residences for senior citizens.'

Historical comparability

Structural type of dwelling

To maintain comparability with 2006 data, the definitions of some structural types have been revised to better correspond to some procedures introduced in the 2006 Census. In 2011, additional information within definitions was added for two categories.

  1. For 'row house,' the additional information relates to the fact that townhouses attached to high-rise buildings are now coded as row house.
  2. For 'apartment in a building that has five or more storeys,' the definition now states that dwellings in this type of building should be included in this category even if the first floor and/or second floor are commercial establishments.

Starting in 2006, 'apartment or flat in a duplex' replaces 'apartment or flat in a detached duplex' and includes duplexes attached to other dwellings or buildings. This is a change from the 2001 Census where duplexes attached to other dwellings or buildings were classified as an 'apartment in a building that has fewer than five storeys.'

Collective dwellings

Collective dwellings types have changed over the last four censuses. Therefore, when attempting to make historical comparison, it is important to refer the census definitions for the census year in question. In some cases, users should aggregate collective types before making historical comparisons.

Data quality

The overall quality of the dwelling variables from the 2011 Census is acceptable. Considerable effort is made throughout the entire process to ensure high standards of data quality; but the resulting data are subject to a certain degree of inaccuracy. The evaluation of dwelling variables consisted of the following at the provincial level:

  • historical comparison with data from the previous census(es)
  • comparison with other sources of data as applicable
  • examination of total imputation rates for structural type of dwelling.

To assess the appropriateness of census data for their purposes and to understand the risk involved in drawing conclusions or making decisions on the basis of these data, users should be aware of the following data quality indicators for the dwelling variables.

Structural type of dwelling

Changes to the collection of the structural type variable had increased the imputation rate. Three percent (3.0%) of the records for the structural type of dwelling were blank or invalid and required imputation compared to 1.6% for 2006 Census. However, the comparison of edited and unedited data indicated that imputation had almost no impact on the overall percentage distribution of structural type of dwelling.

Collective dwellings

Different treatment of how individual buildings of a collective are counted (i.e., counted as separated collectives or just one collective) results in trends that might give false impressions of growth or decline in a category. The counts of collective dwellings for some categories may reflect the count of individual buildings.

Similarities between specific sets of collective types and difficulties in distinguishing between similar collective types may have impacts on the counts from one census to another.

The 2011 Census measured the living arrangements of persons living in seniors' residence collective dwellings. That is, the 2011 Census classified people in seniors' residences as living alone in their unit, living as a couple in their unit or living with others in their unit. In some seniors' residence collective dwellings, difficulties in collection and data processing resulted in the occupants being classified as living alone in their unit regardless of their true living arrangements. It is estimated that about 5 to 10% of all persons in seniors' residence collective dwellings either did not have the opportunity to indicate they were living with someone else or they indicated they were living with someone else but processing difficulties classified them as living alone.

Comparison with other data sources

Structural type of dwelling

Comparisons of structural type of dwelling data for Canada between the 2006 and 2011 censuses show small variation in the share of dwelling types: a decrease in share for 'single-detached house' (-0.2%), a decrease in share for 'apartment in a building that has fewer than five storeys' (-0.4%), an increase in share for 'row house' (+0.4%) and an increase in share for 'apartment in a building that has five or more storeys' (+0.3%).

Collective dwellings

Users should be cautioned that the census collective dwelling types are not expected to always agree with classifications used in administrative data or other sources. In the census, some collective dwellings are classified by the types and levels of services offered, rather than by their name or official status from a business perspective. Furthermore, census data are not collected for foreign residents and/or temporarily present persons living in collective dwellings, while these residents may be included in administrative data sources.

Data and other products

For more information on structural type of dwelling and collectives, please refer to the Topics Release web page.

For information on and access to 2011 Census data, please refer to the 2011 Census web module.

For information on and access to 2006 Census data, please refer to the 2006 Census web module.

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