How can you find out when your house was built

By

RooftopLiving Team

Posted

9th July, 2020

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Property Archives

How can you find out when your house was built

Knowing the age of a property recently bought is a piece of information that one may be interested in either simply out of curiosity or for a specific purpose, such as selling the house. The question “when was my house built?” is therefore very common and very important to find out.

A house is probably the most significant investment in one’s life and age is a crucial factor because it determines its depreciation in matters of value. This is especially the case when a house has not been properly maintained over the years or its utilities are outdated. Some of the issues which are more frequent in an old property are those related to the electricity and plumbing systems, the presence of hazardous materials such as asbestos, thermal inefficiency (the house is not insulated from the external temperatures), etc.

There are many other issues related to old properties, yet some of them do not need to be dealt with as urgently as others. At the same time, if the house is to be placed on the market, bigger problems should be taken care of in order to avoid a loss in the property’s value. These are some of the main reasons why people want to find out the year in which their house was built.

When was my house built?

There are different ways to obtain the year of the building’s construction. The most common and obvious one is to get a copy of the title register (especially when a property was sold or leased by the initial developer). If the house was sold by a third party such as a previous owner, the property information form is the document that should be consulted. Mortgage survey lists or the local council are other alternatives. What other tools can an owner use to find out such crucial information?

The Digital Archives

When was my house built with digital archives
The Digital Archives contain scanned images (both handwritten and typed) of HM Land Registry’s historical 1862 Act Register. This database counts with around 2,000 registered properties built in England and Wales, each of which was assigned a unique reference number. Searching for the property is very easy because the user can choose between five different search criteria: owner’s name, county or parish, title number (the unique reference number), volume number, and the page number.

The Local Archives

When was my house built with local archives
The Local Archives is a record office that holds archives about the history and heritage of the area. This database is available to the public, providing information like family history, house history, and local studies. It is important to bear in mind that the Local Archives is accessible only in regard to information for England and Wales. Users can easily get material by simply entering the postcode of interest in the box, then click on “find” to get the results.

Local Old Maps

When was my house built with local old maps
Local Old Maps is a very interesting source because it is considered to be the most comprehensive historical map archive. Here users can look for historical maps covering England, Scotland, and Wales. What makes Local Old Maps different from other online archives is that visitors can search an area of interest and see the changes that have taken place starting from mid – 19th century until now. The search function is very intuitive and simple: the user needs to indicate the town name, the postcode, the OS grid reference and the OS coordinates.

HM Land Registry

When was my house built with HM Land Registry
HM Land Registry registers the ownership of land and property in England and Wales only. Whoever needs to have any information about the property owned, HM Land Registry is a reliable source. It keeps records of land ownership (whatever is built in it is not included in the database) and the property’s year of construction can be obtained using the date of the first transfer or lease by the developer. In fact, most of the time, this date is specified in the register. If this is not the case, HM Land Registry won’t be able to retrieve the date.

Census Records

When was my house built with census
Census Records provides access to the historical censuses from 1841 to 1911 covering the areas of England, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, the British Army overseas (1911 only), and vessels moored in English and Welsh docks and inland waterways from 1861 onwards. How can Census Records help those owners who wish to know the year of construction of their property? It is very simple: most census entries (those recorded from 1851) are indicated with the exact address, including the house name or number.

Why is the property age critical when you buy or sell?

One of the very first questions that come to mind when buying a house is whether new construction is better than a pre-owned one or not. As mentioned above, the seller should also consider the property’s age as its market value will change accordingly. It is clear that both new and old properties have their pros and cons.

For example, buying a brand new house means that the buyer will be the first one to take possession of the asset, with the lasts building standards and design trends. On the other hand, new means more expensive.

Pre-owned properties have concerns of their own: this is where age plays an important role. There are two ways to look at the property’s building: the home’s chronological age and its effective age, where the former indicates the time it was built in and the latter how old it appears to be.

The secret behind this aesthetic concept is to remodel the property to be the best value for its age. While owning the house, did the owner take care of all the necessary maintenance? This is pretty evident at the time of selling: minimal to no marks on the walls, recently painted, the good status of doors, windows, and trims. Another important aspect that a potential buyer looks for is cleanliness: if a house has an overall nice appearance, chances to sell it at a good price are higher. Remodeling is a key factor in the sale of a pre-owned property.

Replacing the electricity and heating system, replacing the roof, remodeling a kitchen or a bathroom are actions that increase the livability and add years to the useful life of a home. When comparing properties, buyers take into account if they have to begin immediately budgeting for major home improvements. So, is it better to reduce the market price and pass the improvements to others? Not necessarily.

The age will pull up the property’s value

Remodeling a home will pull up the property’s value which means those costs will be covered by the buyer or financed through the mortgage. Looking at it from a different perspective, the buyer may not feel confident enough that a reduced purchase price will compensate for the remodeling work the house requires. There aren’t many buyers who are talented with the DIY world, making the inconvenience factor something to consider. In addition, there is the possibility that a potential buyer may be going through other important changes besides the purchase of a home.

Chances are that the new buyer might not be willing to have to worry about extra factors like remodeling costs.

When selling or buying a house, another element that should be taken into account is the type of cosmetic improvement that proves beneficial to the property’s value. For example, a remodeled house with a new carpet and paint is worth more because these two improvements are typically the most expensive ones. At the same time, if these aspects are inconsistent with the overall maintenance and there’s no evidence of remodeling and replacing, then these cosmetic improvements might just be an attempt to cover up what wasn’t done.

The property’s age is an important factor but it’s not the only one when it comes to the process of buying or selling. Price and location, surroundings, amenities, and other aspects have to be considered as well.

These elements, combined together, explain why some properties sell before others. While purchasing a remodeled house allows us to enjoy it from day one, a property that needs some maintenance will require extra money and changes will be customized. So, there are advantages and disadvantages to buying or selling an old house. The new buyer should find the top solutions to recover the money spent on remodeling or, one day, resell the property at a fair price. What this means is that such an important investment should be managed in the best way possible because a house can be a lucrative asset.

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