How old is your house?

Here's our guide to finding out the age of your house and how it can help with day-to-day repairs.

To understand how your house was built, it's necessary to find out how old it is. You can then get a clear understanding of the building methods and materials involved. You can gain further information to source older materials or learn about what modern materials could work just as well.

Our range of home surveys can help you understand the building materials for your house and help to date your house. This is particularly important if you're buying a new home.

Documentary evidence

The title deeds and conveyances of your house and their associated plans are a good starting point. There may also be evidence through restrictive covenants of neighbouring properties. Restrictive covenants are legal obligations placed on the deed. For example, you may have a covenant that states you must keep your boundary in good repair. These papers may not tell you exactly when a building was built but a series of them may help, especially when linked with planning consents. Look carefully at the purchase price. A rise in price could point towards value added renovations.

Additionally, building approvals and licences help to trace the history of development of a site or locality.

The Law of Property Act 1925 set up a process for the registration of title in land and the Land Registry may hold relevant material for properties in England and Wales and Registers of Scotland  for properties in Scotland. You can request copies of the title entries for a small fee.

Maps, such as old editions of Ordnance Survey maps and local history sources provide clues about when the land was first developed. Local history, local or national conservation or preservation organisations including English Heritage, National Trust  and Victorian Society can point you in the right direction.

Newspapers include valuation resources such as contemporary photographs and property advertisements are available in local public libraries and through online services such as British Newspaper Archive  British Library and National Archives.

Design and materials

During your investigation look at the design, the form of construction and the materials used. These will give clues to the history and the development of a property. However, take heed as these can be misleading. New styles of construction and materials did not come into use nor fall into disuse uniformly across the country, for a mixture of reasons. Many buildings were disguised rather than physically altered and styles outlasted the monarchs after who they were named often by many decades.

Additional resources

  • Victorian House Manual 2ed Rock Haynes Publishing 2015 ISBN 9780857332844
  • Tudor houses explained Yorke Countryside Books 2009 ISBN 9781845741500
  • Inspections and reports on dwellings: Assessing age  Santo Taylor and Francis 2013 9780080971322
  • The age and construction of English housing Nicol  IHS BRE Press 2014 9781848063617
  • The 1930s house manual Rock Haynes Publishing 2005 978781844252145
  • English houses Bruce Taylor & Francis 2004 9781315040523
  • Housing through the decades Clive Turner NHBC Research Foundation 2015 (Available free of charge Pre-registration required)