Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “when was my house built?” There are plenty of reasons why you might need to know — and several ways you can find out.
Here, we share seven of them. And we also explain why older properties tend to be more expensive to insure.
Ready? Let’s get started. (Skip to the search methods if you know why you’re looking)
What year was my house built? Why you might need to know
There are a few reasons why you could be wondering, “how old is my house?”
- Maybe you’re curious about its past. Who lived there before you? What did it look like when it was first built? How have the surroundings changed over time? Learning more about your home’s history can be a fun and fascinating endeavour.
- Or perhaps you want to know about a particular time period to complement your interior design or inform a restoration project. If you match your plans to the original look and layout, you could enhance your home and boost its value.
- And speaking of value, if you uncover something of real historical significance (a famous past resident, for example), it could make your property more desirable should you wish to sell it.
However, chances are it’s for insurance purposes.
The main reason many people want to know when their house was built is for insurance purposes.
Most home insurance companies will ask for the property age before providing a quote.
This is because older properties may have been built using materials that are now costly or difficult to source, or require special building techniques to repair — and this can drive up the price of your premiums.
So, how can you find out when your house was built? Here are seven easy ways.
How can I find out when my house was built in the UK?
1. Check the Title Deeds
Your first port of call should be checking your property’s title deeds. This is a collection of legal documents showing the chain of ownership for your property and the land it’s built on.
Your deeds won’t necessarily show the exact date when your property was built, as the records relate to land ownership. But if the land was sold to a developer to build your home, you should be able to narrow it down to a particular timeframe.
How to find your title deeds
The original copy of your title deeds is usually held by the solicitor you used at the time of purchase. They should have provided you with a copy when you bought your home, so check your emails for a PDF.
If you can’t find it, you can always email your solicitor and ask for another copy.
2. Check the HM Land Registry
If you want your title deeds faster than a solicitor can email them, you can always turn to the HM Land Registry. This is a government department set up to register the ownership of land and property in England and Wales. Since 1990, it’s been a legal requirement for the HM Land Registry to hold an electronic version of the title deeds for every registered property.
Using the “Search for land and property information” tool, you can download copies of your property summary, title plan and title register. It’ll cost you £3 to do this.
If your property is in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you’ll need to search a different register:
3. Check Listed Building registers
If your property is a listed building (meaning it has special historical significance worth protecting), it should be easy to find all the details you need to know online.
Depending on where in the UK your house is situated, check the following resources:
4. Check historical surveys, maps, and records
If you want to embrace your inner Sherlock Holmes, there are several historic resources you can search to zero in on your home’s age.
- Ordnance Surveys and local authority maps could help ID your home or road. Comparing different maps might help you pinpoint when yours was built.
- If you suspect your house is very old, census records could also help you figure out how long it has been standing. The National Archives gives you access to censuses from 1841 to 1921. For a small fee, you could look up details of your home from that period.
- Your library or town museum (if you have one) may provide you with town plans, records, or archive newspaper reports, giving you an overview of local developments.
5. Speak to someone in the know
If you’ve recently purchased your home, you may be able to ask the previous owners about the building’s past. They may have had surveys carried out or done some research into the property’s history.
Alternatively, a local estate agent may have some knowledge about your property or the area where it’s built.
And if your area has one, contact your local history society to see if they can help you crack your case.
6. Look for architectural clues
There may be certain features in your home that indicate it was built during a particular time.
For instance, the distinctive timber and white brick design of Tudor homes (1485 – 1603) stand out like a sore thumb. And tall, high-ceilinged Victorian homes (1837 – 1901) and broad Edwardian-era houses (1901-1918) are pretty easy to tell apart.
If you’re unsure about your home’s design, consider asking a local estate agent or architect for guidance.
7. Examine the building materials
Finally, depending on where in the UK you live, there may be certain building materials only found in your area.
For example, a special type of stone or brick may have been used to construct houses during a particular time period. If yours matches the rest, that could help you narrow it down. And if not, your home could be a new addition to the area.
Again, a local estate agent, architect, or history society could help you here.
Why are older properties more expensive to insure?
There are several reasons why older properties tend to be more expensive to insure:
- Plumbing, insulation, wiring, and windows installed long ago may not be revised to modern standards. Repairing or replacing them can be costly if you need to excavate behind thick walls or rip up old floorboards.
- For external issues, the building materials used in the original construction could now be rare and difficult to source. This will drive up the costs of any repair work.
- And if your home has a period feature damaged, you may need the help of an expert to restore it to its former glory. For example, fixing a thatched roof or repairing Edwardian parquet flooring will probably require a specialist tradesperson, and they’ll charge a premium for their expertise.
To recap: How to find out when a house was built
Whether you’re answering an insurance question or exploring the history of your home, there are several ways you can find out when your house was built.
The easiest is to search online for official records. But you could also ask around or conduct your own research into the architectural style or building materials to uncover your building’s past.
The good news is most home insurance companies won’t need the exact day and date of when your home was built to offer you a quote. An approximate year of construction should be more than enough.
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