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Principal-agency problems due to hidden incentives might be amplified, for example, under circumstances when unjustified trust in an inspector is associated with higher perception of building quality. This paper sets out to determine whether a significant difference exists in the owner’s perception of the building quality based on the perception of the inspector and the inspection process within multi-dwelling housing. A principal-agent theoretical perspective and the question of trust is applied on data from a survey sent to 1563 housing cooperatives in Sweden and analysed using a one-sided ANOVA as well as Kruskal-Wallis and post-hoc Dunn’s test. The major finding is that differences in perception associated with the company size of the developer, the timing of the inspection as well as the complexity of the process for the owners affects reported defect. The main implication is that efforts to address shortcomings related to the gap between the developer and the owner, in the context of building quality and perceived severity of defects, need to be customised to different owner groups. A better understanding of the inspection process by the owner improves active participation, which leads to efficient quality improvement. Society benefits from improved comprehension and utilisation of the results.
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