When was my house built?
When you arrange home insurance your insurance company will ask when your house was built, but not many of us immediately know the answer and wonder “how old is my house?” and “how can I find out?” - unless the property in question is a new build.
Knowing the exact year or decade in which your property was constructed can be a gamechanger when it comes to buying, selling or insuring a home. A property’s age can not only affect the value of a property, it can also influence the cost of your home insurance.
So, if you need or want to know “When was my house built?”, here’s absolutely everything you can do to find out.
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When you buy a home with a mortgage, your mortgage lender will insist on home buildings insurance being in place ready for exchange of contracts.
Having buildings insurance in place means a house can be fully reconstructed from the ground up, should something catastrophic happen such as a house fire or a gas explosion.
Before a mortgage offer can be issued, a property valuation is conducted by a surveyor on behalf of a mortgage lender. This valuation is necessary so the lender can check the property’s sale price isn’t too high.
As well as an estimated value, a lender’s valuation report contains an estimate of a home’s construction date. The surveyor’s estimated build date given in their valuation report is usually sufficient for most home insurance companies to provide house insurance cover.
A copy of the valuation report is sent to you with your mortgage offer. So if you retained all of your house purchase paperwork - including the mortgage offer from your mortgage lender - you should be able to find a copy of your valuation report.
So you have some idea of what you’re looking for, here’s an extract of a sample mortgage valuation report showing the ‘Approx Year Built’ circled in red:
If you didn’t borrow money to purchase a property and were a cash buyer, finding out the property’s build date is not quite as straightforward - that is, unless you chose to arrange and pay for your own independent homebuyer’s report.
A homebuyer’s report contains a lot of similar information - such as an estimated build date - to that typically found in a mortgage valuation report.
However, should you choose to solely rely on a surveyor’s estimate in a valuation or homebuyer’s report, if that estimate is inaccurate, your home insurance premiums could cost more than they should and your property could be worth less than its predicted value.
But don’t worry, if you have the time and inclination, there are other deeper checks you can conduct alongside or instead of using the estimate provided in a mortgage valuation or homebuyer’s report.
Land Registry search
If you don’t possess copies of the registered title to your property, you can view a property’s Registers of Title online for most properties in the UK via the Land Registry’s website for a fee of £3.
You may be able to find out when a house was built if the Registers of Title include information about the original developer - i.e. the company or person who built the property and first sold it.
Very often an old conveyance or transfer is referred to in the registers as it is a root title document that typically contains restrictive covenants that burden a property.
If there is such a document referred to in the registers that appears to be between the original housing developer and the first buyer/s, then the date of that document can be used as a build date.
Title Deeds inspection
If the property was purchased many moons ago and has never been registered at the Land Registry, then a bundle of documents called an “Epitome of Title” (better known as the Title Deeds) will be sent to a buyer’s conveyancer as evidence of the current owner’s title to the property.
An original conveyance or transfer selling the property when it was first built will form part of the Title Deeds. Again, the date of the original transfer or conveyance that documented the first sale of a property can be used as a home’s construction date.
Local Authority Enquiries
Search a local authority’s online planning portal for any planning documents that relate to a property. If you can’t find anything, you could try contacting your local council’s planning department to see if they can help.
Ask the owner or neighbours
If you’re in the process of buying a property, you could try asking the current owner and/or their neighbours who live in similar looking properties if they know when the property was built, or you could ask your conveyancer or the estate agents to find out this information for you.
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Any property built more than 50 years ago is considered to be an older property and there are certain historical record checks you can undertake to determine an older property’s age.
Check The 1862 Act Register
The 1862 Act Register lists around 2,000 older properties in England and Wales and digital archives can be viewed online via the Land Registry’s website.
Check local archives
Try looking for the property in parish records, at the County Record Offices or a local studies centre at your local library.
You can search for local archives via nationlarchives.gov.uk. Typically, local museums store parish register archives and local authorities store the county archives.
Local archives will usually hold information that includes:
- electoral registers
- local maps
- building plans (from the mid-19th century)
- family and estate papers
Approach a local history society
If you’re finding the whole historical property search process a bit labour-intensive, time-consuming and frustrating, why not approach a local history group - try searching for one on Google or Facebook. If you’re lucky, someone might be more than happy to undertake the research for you.
Look at Ordnance Survey Maps
Check to see if you can find out when the property was first shown on the Ordnance Survey Map.
Search for a Listing Building
If you think the property is a ‘Listed Building’, you can easily search for details about the property on Historic England’s site.
Check the Census
Search the census records for the first mention of your property to try to gauge the date it was built.
Consider the style of house
What sort of roof and windows or unique architectural features does the house have that might give you an idea of its construction date?
Older houses typically fall into the following era categories:
- Tudor (1485-1603)
- Regency or Jacobean (1604-1713)
- Georgian (1714-1820)
- Victorian (1837-1901)
- Edwardian (1901-1914)
If a property is very old, you should google search the above architectural eras and look at pictures to find out what sort of features a property constructed during that period would have such as high sash windows or white-painted wattle walls.
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Yes, another way you can try to find out when your house was built, online for free, is by conducting a postcode search using a year of build checker such as this one provided by property.tools.
Note: There’s no point in searching for “how old is my house Zoopla?” because Zoopla is only able to provide information such as the sale price and the date a property was last sold via their website; they cannot provide a property build date.
The quickest and easiest way to try and find out when your leasehold flat was built is by digging out a copy of the landlord insurance - a copy is usually provided to you by the managing agents, leasehold management company or residents association.
A leasehold flat means that you own the property (flat) for a long number of years but do not actually own the land the flat is built on.
If you own a freehold flat (meaning you own the property and the land it sits on) then you should follow the advice given above on how to find out the age of a house.
Most flats are typically a ‘leasehold property’ and a ‘landlord’ will always own the freehold title to a flat.
It is the freeholder’s (landlord’s) responsibility to arrange collective buildings insurance for all flats in the same complex (if applicable). So a landlord or his agents would have provided an estimated or accurate year of construction when the buildings insurance was arranged.
Search the Registers of Scotland and visit this page for full information about how to find historical property data for houses in Scotland.
Yes, according to research by Experian, insurance premiums for a property over 30 years old are typically 75% more expensive than what you’d pay for a new build property.
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If a property is a listed building or just very old, you might need to arrange specialist homeowners insurance.
However, before you do anything, we recommend that you compare cheap home insurance quotes online using a reputable comparison site like Bobatoo.
When you compare home insurance deals with Bobatoo we source the best policies from most of the top UK insurers who can provide standalone buildings insurance policies or combined building and contents policies.
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