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Concepts and definitions


A building refers to any independent structure permanently constructed or erected on its site. It has its own entrance and contains covered space intended for different purposes, usually enclosed within outer walls or walls separating it from other structures (buildings).

Caves and other subterranean spaces which are mainly enclosed within rock or similar walls and/or which do not contain structures comparable to the interior structures of buildings proper, for example underground oil tanks, are not buildings.

Stalls, kiosks, etc. that do not contain space separated by closed walls, and transportable caravans, ships, etc. are not classified as buildings.

The building stock statistics do not include:

  • free-time residences
  • buildings intended for storing liquids
  • buildings used only in agricultural production
  • sauna buildings belonging to residential buildings
  • outhouses of residential buildings
  • buildings entirely controlled by foreign missions
  • buildings of the Armed Forces
  • air raid shelters
except in cases where such buildings are occupied or contain business premises.

The data on buildings come from the Population Information System of the Population Register Centre.

Building material

The building material refers to the material from which the vertical supporting structures of the building are mainly made. The classification is as follows:

  • concrete, light concrete
  • brick
  • steel
  • wood
  • other, unknown.


A dwelling refers to a room or a suite of rooms which is intended for year-round habitation; is furnished with a kitchen, kitchenette or cooking area; and has a floor area of at least 7 square metres. Every dwelling must have its own entrance. A single-family house may be entered through an enclosed porch or veranda. If a dwelling is entered through the premises of another dwelling, it is not regarded as a separate dwelling but instead those two constitute one dwelling.


Data on the facilities of dwellings and buildings are derived from the dwelling and building data of the Population Information System of the Population Register Centre.

Facilities in a dwelling:

  • sewage
  • running water
  • toilet
  • hot water
  • washing facilities (shower, bathroom or sauna)
  • sauna in the dwelling
  • central or electric heating.

The data on dwelling facilities have been used in determining the standard of equipment of the dwelling.

Facilities in a building:

  • electricity
  • sewage
  • running water
  • hot water
  • lift
  • sauna in the building
  • swimming pool
  • mechanical ventilation
  • air raid shelter.

Free-time residence

A free-time residence refers to a recreational building constructed permanently on the site of its location or to a residential building that is used as a holiday dwelling. Holiday cottages serving business purposes, buildings in holiday villages and allotment garden cottages are not counted as free-time residences.

Free-time residences comprise all buildings the intended use of which on 31 December was as a free-time residential building or which on the said date were used as holiday residences.

Free-time residences are not included in the building stock. The floor area of free-time residences refers to the gross floor area of the whole building.

The data on free-time residences are obtained of the Population Information System, maintained by building project notices from municipal building supervision authorities.

Gross floor area

The gross floor area of a building comprises the floor areas of the different storeys and the area of attic or basement storeys in which there are dwelling or working rooms or other space conforming to the principal intended use of the building.

The gross floor area is the horizontal area enclosed by the outer surfaces of the walls of the storeys or their imagined continuation for openings and decorations on the surface of the outer walls.

Heating fuel/ source of heat

Heating fuel or source of heat refers to the main fuel or energy source used in heating a building. There are also data on the heating fuel of dwellings. Data on the heating fuel have been obtained from the Population Information System, which receives them from municipal building supervision authorities.

Information about change in heating fuel is mainly transmitted to the Population Information System only if such alterations have been done to a building which require a building permit.

The classification is as follows:

  • district heating
  • oil
  • gas
  • coal
  • electricity
  • wood
  • peat
  • ground heating
  • other, unknown

Heating system

Heating system refers to the main method of heating used in the heating of a building. There are also data on the heating fuel of dwellings. Data on the heating fuel have been obtained from the Population Information System, which receives them from municipal building supervision authorities by way of building project notices. Information about change in the heating system is only transmitted to the Population Information System if such alterations have been done to a building which require a building permit.

The classification is as follows:

  • central heating, water
  • central heating, air
  • direct electric heating
  • stove heating
  • no fixed heating installation
  • unknown.

In a water central heating system, the building is heated with circulating water, and in an air central heating system with circulating air. In direct electric heating the building is heated with the aid of a fixed radiator, etc. connected directly to the electricity network.

In stove heating, heating takes place by burning wood or other fuels in a fireplace (stove) that stores heat. Stove heating also includes electric heating reservoirs, separate fixed oil heaters and heatpreserving fireplaces. Stoves used for heating saunas are not regarded as heating equipment.

Holiday resident

The number of holiday residents by municipality has been counted from the total number of persons in the household-dwelling units of the free-time residence owners. If the same person owns more than one freetime residence in the same municipality, the persons in that household-dwelling unit have been taken into account only once. If the household-dwelling unit owns a freetime residence in more than one municipality the said persons have been counted as holiday residents in both municipalities.

When counting the number of holiday residents it has not been possible to take account of the free-time residences owned by death estates or foreigners, or of those in joint ownership.

Intended use of building

The intended use of a building is determined according to the purpose for which the largest part of the gross floor area of the building is used. The categories are as follows:

  • residential buildings
  • free-time residential buildings
  • commercial buildings
  • office buildings
  • transport and communications buildings
  • buildings for institutional care
  • assembly buildings
  • educational buildings
  • industrial and mining and quarrying buildings
  • energy supply buildings
  • public utility buildings
  • warehouses
  • rescue services buildings
  • agricultural buildings and livestock shelters
  • other buildings.

The classification of the intended use of buildings is given in Statistics Finland's Handbook Classification of Buildings 2018. Not all the classes in the building classification are included in the Statitics Finland's building stock.


An urban settlement is a cluster of dwellings with at least 200 inhabitants. The delimitation is based on the population information of the previous year. Urban settlements are defined and delimited in co-operation with the Finnish Environment Institute using geographic information methods that utilise the building and population data of Statistics Finland's 250 m x 250 m grid data. The population size of grids containing buildings and their neighbouring grids, as well as the number of buildings and their floor area, are reviewed in the definition. From the uniform clusters of dwellings generated in the defining stage, the ones with at least 200 inhabitants are selected.

Network connection

The following network connections are identified for a building:

  • sewage
  • running water
  • electricity
  • natural gas.

Number of storeys

The number of storeys in a building consists of all storeys that are primarily above ground level and in which there are habitable rooms or office space or other space conforming to the intended use of the building. If the number of storeys varies in different parts of the building, the number usually refers to the largest number of storeys in the building.

For buildings completed after 1980, the number of storeys is expressed as an average number that takes into account the whole building if the share of the gross floor area of a certain storey out of the gross floor area of the main storeys is very small. For instance, if a large industrial unit is mainly a one-storey building, but office space is located on three storeys, then the number of storeys is given as one.

Standard of equipment

As from 2005, only two categories are used to describe the standard of equipment:

  • High standard of equipment: the dwelling has running water, sewage, hot water, toilet, washing facilities (shower/bathroom or sauna) and central or electric heating
  • Other or unknown level of equipment.

In the previous years, three categories have been used to describe the standard of equipment in a dwelling:

  • High standard of equipment: the dwelling has running water, sewage, hot water, toilet, washing facilities (shower/bathroom or sauna) and central or electric heating
  • low standard of equipment: the dwelling only lacks washing facilities and/or central heating (or electric heating)
  • substandard of equipment: the dwelling lacks one of the following facilities: running water, sewage, hot water or toilet.

Sub-area (of municipality)

Municipal sub-areas are formed of operationally functional wholes defined by the municipality itself, which are the basis of the municipality's regional planning and monitoring. Statistics Finland is responsible for digitising new sub-area boundaries and for maintaining name files. Municipalities have the opportunity to check their sub-area division once a year.

The division into sub-areas is a hierarchical three-level classification which has a 1-digit major area level, a 2-digit statistical area level and a 3-digit small area level. Sub-areas are numbered consecutively using these three hierarchical levels. The 6-digit sub-area code is bound to the 3-digit municipality code, so the sub-area code consists of a total of nine characters.

Type of building

Residential buildings are classified according to type of building as follows:

  • Detached houses: residential buildings containing 1 to 2 dwellings, including semi-detached houses and other comparable detached residential buildings (e.g. permanently occupied free-time residences)
  • Terraced houses: residential buildings with at least three adjoining dwellings
  • Blocks of flats: residential buildings of at least three dwellings in which at least two dwellings are located on top of each other and which do not belong to the previous categories
  • Other buildings: also includes buildings whose type is unknown.

Type of ownership of building

Buildings are divided into the following categories by tenure status:

  • private person/ death estate
  • housing corporation or co-operative
  • real estate corporation
  • private company
  • company controlled by the State or municipality
  • State or municipal corporation
  • bank or insurance company
  • municipality
  • State
  • social security fund
  • religious community, foundation, party, etc.
  • other or unknown.

Year of construction

The year of construction refers to the year in which the building was completed and was ready for use. If the building was completed prior to 1980, the year of renovation may have been entered as the year of construction.

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Buildings and free-time residences [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-6796. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 19.5.2024].
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