When you’re buying a house or a land, you are investing in a huge risk. You can never know where and what you’re financing. That is why it is best to invest in a new and modern property. At least you have no worries about near-future malfunctions. It is totally okay if you for an older house, as well. Although you are faced with several questions, it generally isn’t a big deal.

It is necessary to know when the old property was built. However, many records about the construction don’t exist at all. The year it was built plays many roles. It helps with knowing the value of the home.

Many people that own these ancient homes have to deal with the fact that they will never know the construction year. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Hopefully, this article will help you how to find the age of a house you have bought.

It will give you tips and hacks to find the approximate age of the land.

Identify the Visual Character of the Building

Green-Oaks-Atherton-by-Dennis-Mayer-Photographer How to find the age of a house you want to buy
Image source: Dennis Mayer – Photographer

How a building looks tells you everything about its condition and age. You have to do some digging for this too. Many old buildings took years to be built. Over a slow period of time, rooms have been added. Even some details have been corrected. Look at the features your home has. Perhaps you can narrow down the year by exploring which architectural style it belongs to. The styles in the past took time to change, so you will be able to eyeball the approximate age.

Examine the Physical Evidence

google How to find the age of a house you want to buy

If you can’t pinpoint the style by yourself, look at the materials it has been built with. For example, you will be able to tell that the materials belong to a certain period. Many architectural buildings use different materials for each style. You can use the local library to find more about the building blocks. You can also use Google to search the internet. You can even ask friends and family to help you with this. If you have someone that is in this field, don’t be afraid to ask for advice and help.

Inspect basement or attic

Lake-Minnetonka-Vicorian-Remodel-by-Lindstrom-Restoration How to find the age of a house you want to buyImage source: Lindstrom Restoration

Many old basements come with stones that have the year printed on them. The older pipes typically have the year engraved on the external surface. This also applies to attic support blocks. The year will be most definitely marked somewhere. This is a certain way how to find the age of a house.


Wiring How to find the age of a house you want to buy

You can tell what year the house was built it just by looking at the type of wiring it has. For example, if it has aluminum wiring, it means that it was probably built in the 60s/70s. This is because back then copper was expensive and many people couldn’t afford to have it.

If you see knob and tube wiring, know that the house was built sometime between the 1800s up to the late 40s. You can recognize this type of wiring as it is unique. It has porcelain pipes that have wires wrapped with cloths in them.

Chimneys & Fireplaces as Indicators of Building Age

Hwy-40-Project-by-Evergreen-Dwellings How to find the age of a house you want to buyImage source: Evergreen Dwellings

Chimneys can tell a lot about the house you have bought. Where they are located and how, their shape and size even the building materials tell everything. These details don’t give off only this information. You can see you need to have additional safety inspections. You can also know where you should repair and fix it.

Here is a simple guide to help you figure out which era your home belongs in:

  • 1st group: one chimney at one end. These houses had one room only
  • 2nd group: chimney at either end. These homes had two rooms. The rooms could be separated from an entry, or not.
  • 3rd group: the central chimney. It was put between two rooms and served as a heat source for them both

Square Nails Imply Age 

square-nails How to find the age of a house you want to buy

You will definitely know that your house was build in the 1800s just by looking at the types of nails. Square nails aren’t used for hundreds of years. They were the norm in the 1800s and before.

It is highly unlikely that they are sold or manufactured anywhere anymore. Nowadays they are rounded. You will instantly know how to find the age of a house with this tip.

Roofing Materials as Indicators of Building Age 

Vicente-Burin-Architects-by-Vicente-Burin-Architects How to find the age of a house you want to buyImage source: Vicente Burin Architects

The roofing materials can tell a lot about the age of the house. For instance, wood shingle roofing has been used for decades in both Europe and the USA. If you call a professional wood inspector, you might be able to find out how old the wood is. And you will then know when the building was made.

There are many details you can examine from this material to find out the age.

How to find the age of a house (Other clues)

tax How to find the age of a house you want to buy

Although this rarely helps, you can try nonetheless. Call the country tax assessor. They will ask for your address and then they will be able to tell you the year without any cost.  You can try your luck there. But it is unfortunate as many house records are lost.

The tax records of the house are stored by the country. The list updates every year. It has a full report of all the previous and current house owners. You will be able to find out the house’s value as well.

The Country Clerk’s Office also allows full information about the lawsuits regarding the property. You will be able to get all details about the transactions, names, disputes and dates.

Review Fire Insurance Maps

These maps offer complete insight into the houses in your town. Many of their cases date back to the early 1800s. They can aid you towards a clue. For example, they can give you information about the type of materials your house was built in. This will determine when it was constructed.

Contact the area historical society

historical-society How to find the age of a house you want to buy

Many historic preservation societies can help you with this challenge. They often collect maps and records about local neighborhoods. You can also ask the members about their knowledge of that specific house.

Check Out Community Libraries

library How to find the age of a house you want to buy

Some local libraries have sections devoted to historical buildings in your town or country. You might be able to find the house there. You can even search the real estate listings. Ask for historical maps and newspapers to get more information on this topic.

More ways to find out how old a house is

Ask Around

Ask-Around How to find the age of a house you want to buy

You can do some investigation without any effort. You can ask neighbors or senior citizens about the history of the house. And, who knows you might be able to meet someone that will tell you the age of the house. Perhaps they will even offer pictures or other evidence.

Check the Title

Some older houses don’t have records that show the initial owners. However, you are able to get to the latest owner. If you happen to do so, you will be able to get in contact. If that person is alive, you will be able to draw some information. 

If you know when they changed, renovated that home, you will be able to eye the age of the house.

Talk to the seller or agent

deed How to find the age of a house you want to buy

If you want to buy that specific house, what you can do best is talk to the person selling it. They have to fill in a report about the house. This document might contain the age of the house.

If you want to find out the age of your house, you have to do some inspecting. Whether you do it on your own or with some help, it will always be a fun hobby. There are many clues and hints a house offers. If you pay attention to them, you will know how to find the age of a house.

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