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How to find out what year your house was built

Posted on by Rachel Brookes

Knowing the age of your home, or a property you’re about to buy, can be important for a number of reasons. You may need to make repairs on your home and therefore want to check you use the right materials; you could be purchasing house insurance for the first time, or you might simply just be curious.

Whatever your reason, there are several ways to determine the age of your property. Let’s start with the simplest ones.

An old house

Look at your deeds

A good place to start is your title deeds, which could state the

date your property was built, or give you a rough idea. If your home is very old, there may not be an exact date or any information regarding age at all. The Land Registry only keeps track of land ownership and not what is built on the land,

unfortunately.

If, for whatever reason, you don’t have your deeds, you can request a copy here.

Just ask

It’s plausible that if you’re wondering what the age of your home is, someone else has asked the same question before. Ask your neighbours if they know how old the properties in the area or street are – they may have investigated for themselves already, or their deeds might contain more details than yours. There really is no harm in asking and it may save you a lot of time.

If you want to know the age of a property you’re thinking of purchasing, ask the seller or agent. The information may be on the seller’s property information form, which every vendor must fill out before putting their home on the market.

A survey of the home, particularly if it’s a structural survey, may also help indicate how old it is.

Examine the architecture

A quick look at the property’s architecture can give you some clues as to when a property was constructed. Pay particular attention to the windows, skirting boards and doors, as certain styles have gone in and out of fashion over the years.

However, an analysis of the architecture will only give you a vague idea of the home’s age, especially when you consider that certain aspects of your property may have been changed or replaced at any point. Different building materials and techniques went out of fashion at various times across the UK, so don’t take your home’s aesthetic as concrete proof of its age.

Check the archives

If you’ve tried all the methods above but are still stumped as to when your home was built, you’ll need to do a little digging. Luckily, there are lots of great resources out there that can help you, and most of them can be viewed online for free.

Old maps may show you when the land your home is built on was first developed – unfortunately, Ordnance Survey do not hold historical maps anymore, but your local library might have some. You could also try old-maps.co.uk.

It’s worth taking a look at your local library’s newspaper archive too, if it has one. These newspapers may contain old photos of your home or adverts for its sale. If your local library does not have what you’re looking for, try sites like the National Archives, British Newspaper Archive and the British Library.

Local history groups and national conservation and preservation organisations, such as National Trust, English Heritage and Victorian Society may also be able to help you, or at least point you towards someone who can. Get in touch with your local authority too – it may have a record of when planning permission was granted.

Another useful online resource is the 1862 Act Register, which contains information on around 2,000 properties, so if your house is really old, it might be on there. The register was the government’s first attempt at documenting property ownership; therefore the information available is limited.

You may have more luck with the historical censuses. Every census taken between 1841 and 1911 is available to view online. Hopefully, they should reveal when your home first appeared on the census, giving you a rough idea of when it was built.

It’s not always easy to determine exactly how old a property is, but do enough research and you should be able to narrow it down. Along the way, you might find out even more fascinating information about your abode, so sometimes, it’s worth doing all that hard work – good luck!



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