What Year Was My House Built? (11 Ways To Find Out!)
There are a lot of important factors when it comes to owning a home. Whether you are actively shopping or already own your home, knowing the age can be just as important as any other factors involved.
There are several different ways to figure out what year your house was built. These ways involve ownership documents, asking the realtor, tax records, asking the county clerk, talking to a local building inspector, and visiting the community library. You can also check the materials used to build your house, as well as fire insurance maps.
Do I Need to Know How Old My House is?
It might seem arbitrary to know the age of your home. But knowing the age can prepare you for any repairs or replacements that will need to come in the future. When you are unaware of the house, there are problems that may creep up and take you by surprise.
When you can make repairs or make renovations, knowing the trouble areas of your home and the age can help you make preventative fixes. Those preventive fixes may be less invasive and cost less than an emergency repair.
How Do I Find Out What Year My House Was Built?
There are many different reasons why you must know the age of your home. However, it’s not always easy finding this information. Therefore, below, we have 11 different ways to figure out how old your house is.
1. Consult Your Ownership Documents
The easiest and quickest way to determine the age of your home is with the related ownership documents. The title to the house should have the history of the home’s ownership as well as a set of papers that includes the deed of your home starting with the earliest date.
The title policy, for example, acts as insurance documents for the deed history, otherwise known as the chain of ownership. These should all give you the date that the home was built.
When buying a home, you will need to get a home appraisal. During the appraisal process – which is the evaluation of the house’s worth – the home inspector should note when the home was built. Keep your ownership documents in proper order, and you should be able to find any information you need.
2. Ask the Realtor
If you are considering buying a home and want to know how old it is, the best place to start is with the realtor. Any realtor worth their salt should have all of the pertinent information on the home readily available to answer questions.
Realtors have the correct information. Talking to the realtor can be great for a lot of reasons. For one, they can tell you whether or not your home is located in a historic neighborhood. They can also help you find the names of the previous owners (not the ones selling) if you want them.
3. Start with the Tax Records
The first place to start is with the tax records on the home. Whatever documentation there is on the house, it should be kept in an organized fashion. You likely will not need to access that paperwork very often, but it will come in handy when you do.
The tax records will list every landowner where your home is. Not only that, it will show the assessed value of the property each year. If you notice a substantial jump in the value of the land, it is safe to assume that there was a considerable renovation performed or the home was a new construction. At the worst, you can use the dates to match any additional research.
4. Check the County Clerk’s Office
Tax records may not give you clear evidence of when the house was first built. Thankfully, there are a few files that you can obtain at the county clerk’s office. You will need the tract index, the grantor-grantee index, and the Registrar of Deeds.
Each of these documents will list all of the transactions comprehensively. These are the transactions that have been tied to the lot where your home resides. That includes the names of any previous owners and the dates they owned the house. It will also include any liens or lawsuits attached to the home throughout the years.
5. Talk to the Local Building Inspector
Obtaining the aforementioned files may be less than convenient, but there are alternatives. You can talk to the local building inspector to see what, if any, building permit applications are associated with your address.
Building permits are required for significant remodeling and just about any new construction. You can see the dates of any major changes or even the home’s initial structure through the building permits. Coupled with the other dates that you may already have, you can at least narrow down your search if not find the date entirely.
6. Try Your Community Library
Believe it or not, many libraries will have a section entirely devoted to the local history. That can include building plans, archived historical maps, and old photographs. You can check through all of the real estate listings from past newspapers from the period where you believe your home was built (if you have an idea).
This is a little less specific than some other methods and is meant only if you are striking out using the other methods. Still, you can compare the dates in these papers with the census records covering your area.
7. Consider the Materials
Without research, you can generally narrow down when your home was built based on the materials used. If your home hasn’t been recently renovated, you can look at the materials used in the construction.
If your home has asphalt tile flooring, you can narrow it down to a couple of decades, for instance. Here’s a cool tip, too: if your bathroom has the original fixtures, there is a good chance that you can find the manufacturing date stamped somewhere on the underside of your toilet tank.
8. Check Out Fire Insurance Maps
This is one of the available tools, yet most people are not aware of it. Fire insurance maps can be quite trustworthy in providing important dates for your home. They can even date back to the 1870s, helping you determine things like the flooring and even the roofing materials used during the initial construction.
The reason that fire insurance maps have them is to aid the insurance agent. Basically, it helps them understand just how hazardous the materials used are to your home. Fire maps can help you to at least narrow down the age of your home to a reasonable degree of certainty.
9. Narrow it Down by the Trend
Depending on the style of architecture used, you can narrow down the age based on the trends. Like just about anything else, there are trends in homebuilding. Certain styles were popular during specific periods.
Colonials were famous during the end of the 19th century, for instance, while Craftsman-style homes started to pop up at the beginning of the 20th century. If there are no other options available to you, try consulting a professional architectural investigator to help determine the age of the home.
10. Check The Surroundings
Some structures, for example, were built for a specific function. Is there a history of industry in your town? Is your home nearly identical to several others, and are the houses well arranged?
If that’s the case, you could be living in an old mill or factory worker’s cottage, which was built specifically for employees of a local enterprise during the industrial revolution.
Examining the surrounding region is another technique to determine the era in which your property was developed. This is likely to be easier in less urbanized locations, where property kinds are more uniform.
11. Use Street View On Google Maps
Even if your home was built before 2008, using Street View to tour the neighborhood might be beneficial digitally. Then, using the guidelines above, you may acquire a “feel” for the neighborhood and determine the year that neighboring properties were built.
You could use this tool to see any existing buildings or land sites and traverse through time to see when they were erected.
Additionally, if recent developments in the local region were not present previously, it is worth contacting your local council (and speak to the Planning Department).
Is the Sale Price of a House Public Record?
Perhaps you have driven by a home a few times and wondered to yourself what the price of the home is. The first question you ask yourself is whether or not the sale price of a house is listed in public records.It depends on the state, but they are not included in public records for the most part. They will, however, be recorded as part of the title transfer process through the county’s assessor. Even if the sale is recorded for property tax documents, it does not mean that the sale price of a house will be made available for public records.
How Do I look Up the Square Footage of my Home?
The simplest way to find out the square footage of your home is to contact the building department in your city. You can ask them to pull up original blueprints or permits attached to the property.Builders are required to include the square footage for each of the units. Check the blueprints to find the necessary information there.If you are striking out at the building department, an appraiser can check the home’s square footage. A home appraiser will cost you a little more time and money and provide accurate results.
Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.
More by Ryan Womeldorf