How Old is My House and When Was It Built?
It’s an often asked question – how old is my house? There are many reasons you may wonder about the age of your house, too. For example, maybe you need to provide some details to your insurance company. Maybe you’ve uncovered a curiosity during renovation. Whatever the reason you find yourself asking “how old is my house,” though, there are actually lots of good ways to get an answer to this question.
Why the Answer to “How Old My House Is” Matters
There are no real rules about what defines a house as “old”, but typically estate agents and others in the real estate agents believe that any building built in the last 50 years in the UK is new. In most properties, there are a few differences between older homes and newer homes, and most of those involve the design of the property and the materials used during construction. That means that the answer to “how old is my house” can be pretty helpful whether you’re looking for home insurance or you’re interested in adding on to a property because insurance companies and builders both want to know about high-risk materials that could become a problem were they damaged or were a space to be remodelled. This information can also be quite helpful if you’re looking to find the right renovation materials to match an existing structure.
If you’re in the market for a new house, the answer to the question of how old my house is can be a significant advantage. If you know the age of the home you’re walking into, you can better understand any potential issues you might face as a new homeowner. You’ll also be able to decide what features you most admire about the house, which may give you quite a bit more bargaining power and information.
Keep in mind, though, that you don’t want to judge a home just by its age. Newer homes don’t always mean better homes. Sure, newer homes are often far more energy-efficient and they might have some cool features, but what they don’t have is the history and the construction materials of decades ago. New homes are always built on a particular budget. They’re also built on almost any available lot. Older homes, though, used far better construction materials. For example, the lumber used in modern construction was typically old-growth wood. They were built with the intention of lasting well over a century, and that old-growth wood was far stronger than the wood used in homes today. It was both denser and heavier than the wood in new construction homes. While many shy away from older homes because of potential problems, many others flock to them because they’re truly an investment to last the ages. Another real benefit of these older homes is that they’re built on premium lots. Years ago, there weren’t quite so many people buying homes around the UK, so those older spaces got the pick of almost any land they wanted, and it shows, too. Take a closer look at newer homes, and you’ll quickly notice that they sit on second-class land. Older homes, though, have beautiful surroundings and great lots.
Buying a home isn’t the only time you might want to get a better look at the age of the property, though. If you’re preparing to sell your home, you want to offer potential buyers as much information as you can about the house, and if you can tell them when a home was built (and maybe a bit of information about its history if it is a historical property), you may have a real selling point on your hands.
How to Find Out The Answer to “How Old My House Is” With The Right Resources
There are actually a number of different ways to figure out the answer to “How old my house is”, but you may have to try a few different methods before you reach the one that works for your home. While you may really want to just Google “Find how old my house is,” the reality is that you may not get the answers to your question when you do that.
The most common way to figure out the answer to the question of “How old my house is” is to use the Land Registry. This resource, though, only tracks the ownerships of homes, not the actual building dates, so as long as the home was moved into shortly after it was constructed, you’ll be able to find the right date.
The Land Registry has Title Registers or deeds, and they’re essentially historical ownership records. You can usually check the age of the property by seeing when the transfer was originally made from the developer to the first owner. You likely actually have a copy of the Title Register. It’s standard practice to get it from your conveyancing solicitor shortly after you purchase the property. If you don’t have this documentation, or you’re interested in the records before you buy a home, you can work through the Land Registry’s eServices portal to learn more. Typically this costs a few pounds to download a PDF, but you can get the entire history of the property, the boundaries of the land, and associated flood risks the property might have. If you’re trying to answer the question “How old is my house,” though, the section you’re looking for is called “Property Register,” and once you get the document, you’ll be able to see when the property was first registered. It is, however, possible that the property was unregistered if it has remained in your family for some time.
Local planning authorities sometimes have these kinds of records on hand too, and that can help you find the answer to the question of “How old my house is”. Often they record development or building work on the property itself. While you may not be able to get an exact date a property was constructed, you should get a fairly good history of the property from this space. Just visiting the website of these groups or making a call can usually help you access the information you need.
There are other public records you can use as you fight the urge to just Google “Find how old my house is”. Census returns from 1841 – 1911 could contain the first mention of your address. The census is the process of counting the country’s population, and in the UK, it’s been given every ten years since 1801. There was a 1942 fire that destroyed some census records, but many of them are complete, and those taken in the later 1800s often contain address records for families, so in some cases, you may be able to do an address search through census records and find the first listing of your home’s address to accurately date your property.
Your home might be listed in the National Heritage List or the National Historic Assets of Wales listing which is a good resource when you’re looking for an answer to the question “How can I find how old my house is”. Both of these documents are essentially a list of every protected historic building and site in England and Wales. They’re both fully searchable documents, so if your home is fairly old, you might find a record of it here.
It’s also possible to utilise old Ordnance Survey maps as you search for the right answer to the question “How can I find how old my house is”. These maps were made as early as the 16th century, documenting larger homes and significant buildings. Those maps published in the 18th and 19th centuries typically provide a solid amount of detail that includes some descriptions of larger houses in certain areas. Other maps located in historical societies, local libraries, and even churches could be a great resource as well to help date your home.
Working with a conveyancing solicitor can often help you find the age of a property, as previous sellers will sometimes list it in their Property Information Forms. Often they have easy access to data that might take some digging on your part, and while they certainly won’t work for free, they will likely be able to come up with the information you need.
The National Archives may also have information about a property’s history. While this isn’t the best place to start, you can typically find information about homes from 1841 – 1939. For example, the 1939 Register was used to issue ration books during World War II, and it captured every detail of the population in the UK at the time. All of that can help you establish addresses in your area during that time. Census records and maps are also available from this space. You can even pay a researcher at the National Archives to search for data about your property.
Local libraries sometimes have maps and archives of local areas that can help you establish the original date of your home’s construction. The British Library usually has fire insurance maps that date back as far as 1885, too, so it may be possible to date your home that way.
If you know you have a much more recent property on your hands, it is possible to easily establish the date it was built thanks to Google Maps. Since 2008, Google Maps street view has been taking snapshots across the UK, so you can see external shots of properties and land over the past several years. You’ll want to enter the full address of the property on Maps, and the overhead Maps view will appear. You can then choose satellite view and click on the photo of the property. From there, you should be able to scroll through the date line to see how a property has changed each time Google has photographed it.
Learning the Answer to “How to Find Out How Old My House Is” By Learning Architecture
Historical properties, though, can pose a special challenge because they don’t always appear in the records of the most common resources. If you’re searching for an answer to the “how old is my house” question, but you have a much older home, understanding the features of many of the historical eras in British architecture may help you decide when your home was actually built.
Tudor homes were typically built in the late 1400s to the early 1600s, and while they inspired designs all over the world, they are the quintessential British type of home. Other homes in Europe looked nothing like them when they were constructed. If you have a really historic home, and you’re looking for an answer to the question “How can I tell how old my house is,” you may want to look for a few key features in these kinds of homes. They have thatched roofs, carefully detailed window framing, very tall chimneys, and exposed timbers. The layout of these homes is typically asymmetrical. They’re usually in an E or an H shape.
Jacobean home designs followed the Tudor era, and in contrast to those, they were built with bricks as opposed to timber. They’re also very like other European designs of the 1600s. If you have this type of home, you may have revolutionary sash windows and a flat-fronted façade. You may also notice a massive wood staircase in the home. In many cases, they have external cornices as well, and some even have servants’ quarters, which may now have been converted to utility rooms.
Georgian homes followed the Jacobean style, and they were constructed from about 1714 through the 1830s. If you’re looking for an answer to the question of “How do I find how old my house is,” you may want to first look at the location of this type of property. Most of these are in central and west London. They tend to be worth quite a bit of money. If you’ve had a chance to see Number 10 Downing Street, you’ve seen a standard Georgian home. At this point in history, many British citizens were touring both central and southern Europe, and they brought Italian architectural influences home with them. Many of these kinds of properties have multiple stories, rectangular sash-style windows, and smooth renderings throughout. You may find lots of other European influences throughout the home as well. Many of these have stucco cornices, and some even feature a stucco front. Many have Greek motifs above both the windows and the doors. Most also feature cast-iron railings across the front of the property. One of the most desirable parts of these properties today is the fact that they usually have a basement.
Victorian homes were built throughout the UK from 1830 – 1901. These homes feature prominent gothic influences with intricate features. You’ll find well-decorated gables and archways as well as front doors that aren’t really a central part of the structure. Instead, they’re usually placed to the right or left of the façade. The stairs in these kinds of homes are fairly narrow, as are the hallways. These homes also usually have very high ceilings as well as huge bay windows. Larger properties of these types usually incorporate beautiful arches. If the flooring is original in your home of this type, you’ll find wide, wooden planks.
Victorian homes weren’t the only kinds of homes being built during this period, though. Queen Anne-style homes were also popular during this time. While they share some of the features that Victorian homes so prominently display, they tend to be a bit more ornate with lots of Dutch influences. You might notice some contrasts in homes of this style like red brick walls and white stone window frames. These homes also usually have wide porches and stone steps. They sometimes have timber hoods over the door, too. Often you’ll find elevated corners made from stone. Tile is usually hung in the upper stories, and some of these features lots of external wood.
Edwardian homes followed that era, and they were usually built on the outskirts of urban areas. If you’re looking for an answer to the question of “How do I find how old my house is,” you’ll want to look for a few features in these homes. They usually had large gardens in both the front and the back, so they’re perfect spaces for families today. The original designs of these homes favoured the garden, with French doors often opening toward it. Most featured lots of stained glass, as well as plenty of carvings inside. Edwardians reversed course on the narrow hallways, favouring wide landing spaces instead, but they retained the love of high ceilings the Victorians created. Edwardian homes typically feature open, airy spaces. You may find echoes of Tudor architecture here, with mock Tudor cladding. If your home has the original floor, you’ll find herringbone oak as your flooring choice.
Semi-style and art deco homes began appearing throughout the UK from 1920 – 1940. Semi-style architecture features wide windows to help add to the natural light in a space and red brickwork. The roofs usually have a fairly shallow pitch, and the interior and exterior spaces are usually fairly grand. Some may even have the oak parquet flooring that would have been originally installed in these homes. Most are two storeys high and have a recessed porch area. They are usually located in quiet spaces, and many even have off-street parking or a solid driveway. The great locations can make them fairly desirable properties for today’s homebuyers.
Art deco homes similarly featured some extravagance and lots of geometric focus points. They typically had a flat roof and used lots of metal work throughout the house. You’ll find lots of sharp contrasts in these homes, and often there are pyramid shapes, chevron patterns, and zigzags in various places on the property. Large windows dot these houses, so you’ll see plenty of natural light with these kinds of properties.
After World War II, Airey homes became fairly popular because raw building materials were hard to come by. As a result, they look fairly basic, so you’ll see concrete structures instead of brick and stone structures. The windows are very small in these homes, and most don’t feature a porch structure. Instead, they had shiplap panelling. Unfortunately, it’s tough to find a home like this one still standing or in good repair. The style was listed in the 1984 Housing Defects Act, which meant many of the properties were either demolished or completely changed during the course of government repairs. The concrete systems that were used to build these houses are prone to corrosion, making them often unsafe today. Some have been working to remodel these, but many lenders simply won’t offer a mortgage with this type of property because it’s fairly unsafe.
The 1970s started a renewed interest in terraced or semi-detached properties. Buying a property from this time means you get a beautiful bathroom and a modernised heating system. In these homes, you’ll find large, flat windows, concrete floors, and plastic weatherboarding.
Contemporary home design began in the 1990s, and these usually feature textured brickwork that is more modern utilising both red and yellow bricks. These are usually easy to distinguish because older brickwork had a far glossier finish. There are lots of different designs used in these, too from semi-detached homes to terraced varieties to three-storey townhouses. Lower ceilings are a hallmark of these kinds of houses, as are many other energy efficient features like better windows and doors to keep the draft out. You’re also likely to see clay roof tiles with these because they tend to be very durable. While older homes used slate, the homes built in the modern era are far more focused on the use of lasting materials at every turn. Today’s homes are usually minimalist in nature, so you’ll see open-plan layouts that allow you to often take in the kitchen, dining area, and living room with a glance. The bedrooms tend to be quite a bit smaller, too. Some also feature stone cladding. Usually, it’s a simple brick house, but the outside may feature a layer of stone tiling to help match the neighbourhood as a whole.
In addition to looking at the architectural features of a home to work to determine when it was built, you can also look to the surrounding area. In less urban areas, properties tend to be fairly uniform, and it’s often always been that way. That fact will help you better determine the history of your home. For example, if you live in an industrial space with homes positioned in neat rows, you may have a home that was built to house workers during the industrial revolution. Homes in London, Bristol, Southampton, and Manchester often suffered bombing during the second world war, so the building you live in may be fairly new because so much was destroyed during that time. If the answer to the question of “how old is my house” UK homeowners so often ask themselves isn’t coming to you easily, you do have other resources.
My House is Really Old! What Should I Do?
If you uncover the age of your home and it’s older than you initially thought, don’t worry! The question to “how old is my house” UK homeowners often ask may result in a surprisingly old answer. If you’re preparing for a sale, there are lots of things to point out in an older home. There are likely some things you’ll want to watch out for, though, too. Here’s a quick list of some problems older homes tend to encounter that you may want to chat with a handyman about before you have your property professionally evaluated.
- Foundation Issues: This is the single most common issue older homes experience. Foundation issues can create settlement cracks or they may develop problems with their support footings. Either way, repairs in this arena can be fairly costly, but it’s absolutely essential to live safely in your home or to sell it. If you notice uneven floors in your home, cracks in the walls on the inside or outside of your home, doors that don’t latch properly, or windows that won’t open well, your home may be suffering from some of the most common foundation problems.
- Problematic Building Materials: Any home built during the 1940s to the 1970s likely incorporated some hazardous building materials like asbestos or lead-based paints. You can’t always see these kinds of materials, though, until you have your home evaluated or you start planning a remodelling project. Inspecting for those materials, though, is a must because they can cause serious harm to adults and children alike. If your home tests positive for any of these problematic building materials, you will need to have a professional come and carefully remove them before you can sell your home. The year your home was built is a good indicator of whether or not problematic materials were used, as is cracking paint or cracking drywall.
- Roofing Problems: The condition of a home’s roof is almost always an issue with older homes. Different roofing materials have different lifespans, and the quality of the initial installation, how much maintenance has been done to the roof, and the grade of the roof can all affect the lifespan of the roofing materials. You can look to see potential roof problems by examining any leaks or moisture in the attic of your home, any missing roofing materials that you can see from ground level (like missing shingles or tiles), or sagging gutters.
- Air Quality Issues: Older homes sometimes have carbon monoxide or radon issues in them, and many homeowners don’t even know there’s a problem. Both of these are colourless and odourless gasses. While neither are toxic quickly, they can both create problems if you’re exposed to a lot of them over time. Often the breakdown of soils can create these gasses, as can leak from an HVAC system, or other appliances like a stove, oven, or clothes dryer. It’s essential to test for these gasses before you sell your home.
- Plumbing Complications: As pipes age, they can decompose quickly, and some may even contain hazardous materials like lead. Those fragments of problematic materials could even end up in drinking water. All of that can spell potential problems for those who own older homes. Those aren’t the only issues you might experience with your plumbing systems, though. Often older homes have older trees in the front or back garden, and those may have strong root systems that, over time, can grow into the plumbing system. It’s essential that a certified plumber carefully check the pipes in your home before you decide to sell. You’ll also want to check your home carefully for leaks around or beneath your faucets, water pressure issues, or drainage problems.
- Energy Inefficiency: This is maybe one of the biggest turnoffs for newer buyers when it comes to older homes. The potential for thermal loss is almost everywhere from single pane windows to leaking ductwork to inadequate insulation. While the charm of older home windows can be wonderful, during the cooler months, you’re likely to wish you had newer windows. Fortunately, there are all kinds of ways to solve the problem and increase energy efficiency, even in an older home. It just takes working with energy experts and your local handyman to make the necessary changes.
If the answer to the question of “how old is my house” UK homeowners so often ask themselves catches you off guard, just remember to have it inspected for any problems, then use that historic age as a great selling or talking point!
Know Your Home’s History!
Getting to know the history of your home can be an incredibly powerful tool. Whether you’re looking to put it on the market or just gain some insight, there are many ways to tackle the task.