Jun 23, · Survey plat maps, land patents and field notes on properties show the formation of property lines. All the information is searchable with the state name, name of the Author: Devon Thorsby. Sep 23, · There are many different situations and for each one you have an answer. 1. If the house is old and you want to to know who was the builder that built the home, the best easiest way is to ask a old neighbor, but if you have access to title history, it is easy to check on the chain of title. 2.
Start with the tax records. Assuming they've been conscientiously maintained, these will list every owner of the land whho which your house sits, along with the assessed property value from year to year. Spot a sudden jump in valuation?
That suggests the construction of a new home likely yours or the completion of a substantial addition or renovation. Copy the date down to review against additional research. These offer a comprehensive listing of all ot that have involved your lot, including names and dates of previous ownersas well as the salient details of any lawsuits or liens filed over the years. Also ask your local building inspector to see any building jow applications associated with your street address. Required for most new construction and remodeling, these documents may reward you with information about any major changes that have been hkw to the structure.
Compare these with the other dates you've accrued, and use them to narrow your scope when researching community documents. Many libraries devote sections to local history, archiving historical maps, original building plans, and even old photographs.
Scour the real estate listings in decades-old newspapers around the time you believe the property was built for stories mentioning your address, and consult the census records for your area. Your home's materials speak volumes about when it was constructed—so long as your home has not been completely renovated. For example, asphalt tile flooring exploded into popularity aroundbut had been virtually forgotten by One handy trick: If at least one of your bathrooms still housse the original fixturesyou can usually find a manufacturing date stamped on the underside of the buit tank cover!
Fire insurance maps how to find out who built your house yet another source of how to triangulate a mobile phone for free particulars.
These mapswhich in many cases date back to the s, can help you determine the framing, flooring, and roofing materials used in the initial construction of your home—knowledge that helped early insurance agents determine the degree of fire hazards of any particular property. Finally, know that, like any trend, the popularity of certain architectural style waxes and wanes. Use your knowledge of these to determine when your own home was built.
How to draw anime eyelashes style was an hoise favorite; Colonial Revival was all the rage in the s; and by the s, Craftsman-style houses had started cropping up everywhere. Not sure where to begin researching? You can always consult a professional architectural investigator for help. Get the help you need for the home you want— sign up for the Buily Vila newsletter today!
Disclosure: BobVila. You agree that BobVila. All rights reserved. If the last set of homeowners didn't share much about the byilt of your house, who else is there to ask?
Details like the year it was built, its initial layout, and the original occupants can always feel just out of reach.
Fortunately for the curious homeowner, answers are easier to come by how to find out who built your house you may think. Check out these seven sources for the extra insight to help you uncover the story behind your own home.
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Nov 17, · Start with the tax records. Assuming they've been conscientiously maintained, these will list every owner of the land on which your house sits, along with . Your title deeds and any other documents that came with the purchase of your house might provide names of people who owned or lived in your house. There are however many more ways to find out more about the people who lived in your house. Census, Poll Books and Directories are just a few of the ways you can learn more about the previous occupiers.
Anyone who undertakes it will need to be equal parts architectural historian, oral historian, research librarian and genealogist. On a street filled with ersatz 's Colonials, the two-story white clapboard house with the black shutters exudes antique charm, especially when one notices the quaint sign hanging at the end of the driveway: Suttonfields, ca. The sign dates to , after Gladys Schondorf, who owns the Somers, N.
Working with the town historian, she learned that her 2. Schondorf presumed that her house included part of that original homestead—but now, after more digging, she's unsure if Mr. Sutton ever lived within its walls. The first step in compiling a house history is to identify the era in which the structure was built. With the help of an architecture book or two, most home owners can discern a core style—even among a century or two of renovations and additions—by examining the silhouette of the house and its layout, as well as the style of the windows, doors, and other features.
A mansard roof, for example, may be of the Second Empire style of the late 19th-century, while a hip roof might indicate a Queen Anne house built a decade later. But keep in mind that while looking at visible features reveals a lot, there may be a hidden chapter to the story. Many a contractor has been surprised to uncover an old wall, a few stair steps, or some other vestige during a renovation.
If you are not inclined to dismantle your house, a tour of the neighborhood to scope out similar homes can suggest the original blueprint lying within altered walls. Schondorf took her research several steps further and invited some local experts to assess her home. As they studied the exterior and interior of the Schondorf house, John Massengale, an architect and historian from nearby Bedford, N. There was, for instance, a column motif indoors and out, as well as a casing detail around the front door, interior doors, and mantels.
But just because Greek Revival houses were prevalent in the early to midth century doesn't necessarily mean that the Schondorf house was built then.
The original house may have gone up earlier and received a stylistic facelift, or it may have been built later, after the style waned. Carpenters in the 19th century learned the rules of classical architecture through builders' guides, like Asher Benjamin's handbook, The American Builder's Companion.
The portico columns on this Greek Revival house seem to be poorly designed 20th-century additions because they are set in too far from the entablature above. The date of a house's style can be supported—or contradicted—by construction details, since the frame of a house is unlikely to have been altered since the time the house was built except in parts damaged by fire or changed with an addition. When Massengale and Gengo descended to the cellar of the Schondorf house, the consistent foundation under both the "old" and "new" parts told them the whole house was built at one time.
A closer look at the floor joists, foundation, and timbers supported their conclusion. Massengale and Gengo maintained that the milled boards used in the frame came into use too late for even the center part of the house, assumed by the Schondorfs to be the 18th-century core, to have been built then.
Though the timbers are clearly hewn, the joists supporting the center section have the straight and parallel teeth marks typical of a 19th-century water-milled board. Other details that help rough-date a house include nails, paint colors, and molding and muntin profiles. Before the 20th century, all of these had styles particular to certain eras. The manufacture of building materials became fairly standardized by the late 19th century.
The type of nails in the frame, for example—wrought, cut, or wire—direct the fastener-educated to a particular period.
Professionals can help date elements of a house by examining a cross section of a paint chip, says Brian Powell, an architectural conservator with Building Conservation Associates. If Powell finds that a room had 10 layers of paint, for example, but a door casing only had the last eight, he would then know that the casing probably appeared around the same time as the third layer of paint on the walls.
Chemical qualities of that layer might link it to a period of manufacture. Hardware also tells a story—albeit a difficult one to decipher because sophisticated hinges and bolts were available from Europe at the same time that early local hardware remained relatively crude. But if a hinge design, for example, matches the estimated date of a door, and that hinge shows no sign of having been changed paint irregularities and superfluous screw holes are big clues , then it may confirm the estimate.
On the other hand, if the hardware is from the days of mass production—from the Victorian era on—old catalogs, available in many university libraries or historical societies, become a great resource.
When all the available clues are taken into consideration, the possible construction date of a house ideally falls into a or year window: "That's about as good as most of us can do," says Gilmore. Noting the wood gutters built into the eaves—which didn't show up till or later—and the materials used in the frame, Baker deduces that the house went up around Official records should back up any guesstimate about construction dates and alterations, especially for a house built in the s.
Every state has a preservation officer who can guide a homeowner to the right resources: county archives, state preservation trusts, and most importantly, local city or town historical societies. The latter will have the best catalogs of municipal information, including maps, local newspapers, and the genealogical information that reveals fascinating details about the people who lived their lives in your home.
Florence Oliver, the town historian for Somers, did the deed trace for Gladys Schondorf in , working backward from the current owners. The search started at the town's deed office, then moved on to the Westchester County archives for the period before the town was incorporated. Oliver looked at transfers for the Schondorfs' 2. She was able to trace the sale of the property through the previous 23 owners, as far back as the initial colonial landowner at the turn of the 18th century.
The house itself is first mentioned specifically in a deed dated , in which a man named George Van Kleek bought an acre lot from his sister Theresa "with the provision that their mother, Sarah, could occupy and enjoy during her lifetime one kitchen, two bedrooms, one parlor, privilege in the garret and cellar in the dwelling house and the use of a quarter of an acre for a garden.
If the Schondorfs' home didn't exist by , it was about to be built. George Van Kleek's house is clearly visible on an map, the earliest one in the Somers Historical Society that shows property locations. Looking at maps in chronological order, a researcher can pinpoint the date a house first appears in a town survey. For homes built after , Sanborn maps—named for the firm in Pelham, New York, that created them—give excellent descriptions of size, layout, and materials for houses in more densely populated areas the maps were used by insurance companies.
They are usually on file with historical societies or available through the Sanborn company, which still exists. When starting your quest, D'Alonzo points out, don't dive into old records looking for your own address.
Street names, house numbers and lot designations frequently change over the years, so it's a good idea to work backward from current records. To uncover the names of former owners or tenants, D'Alonzo also suggests checking old city directories, organized by address.
Historical societies or libraries usually have them, and they are available through the present day. City directories exist even from the days before phones—as far back as the s or earlier. Newspapers also sometimes yield surprising information. Old photographs provide an unambiguous source of evidence, documenting both small and large changes to the footprint of a house. When K. Lacking such a gold mine, a researcher can plumb photo archives in local libraries and historical societies. Lauren Glant was so delighted with the information she uncovered about her Brooklyn, N.
Glant recommends publicizing your curiosity, because neighbors and older community members will come out of the woodwork to tell you bits and pieces about your home's history. Once you know an owner's name, she suggests searching genealogical Internet sites for more information. Without a photograph, first-hand account, or actual mention of a house in town records, a town's property tax records can help.
Presumably this is when the Greek Revival house was built. But that's not to say that there wasn't a house on the property, perhaps in the same strategic hilltop location, before It just means that this particular house most likely dates to that time.
Gladys Schondorf isn't entirely convinced her house doesn't have more history to reveal. She imagines total renovations, and somewhere underneath all the plaster and facelifts, a rough little cottage.
After all, what did those previous landowners live in? But what if she finally concludes that the house was definitely built in ? Home owners can use a cruder technique called cratering. Slice a small patch of paint away from the wood, then lightly sand around it.
Layers of color will feather away from the center and gradually reveal the earliest coats. A home owner who wishes to restore a house's original paint colors—or who is simply curious about them—may want to consult an expert from a conservation firm. A tiny sample or plug from a wall is removed, cast in resin, and polished perpendicular to the layers. An examination under high magnification and ultraviolet light will help distinguish between even "a million shades of white," says Brian Powell of Building Conservation Associates in Boston, Massachusetts.
Because colors tend to fade over time, paint conservators look for drips and other thick areas that have a more protected core. Lacking a pristine sample, says Powell, "you have to use a curatorial eye and correct based on what you know of a paint's properties.
Identify the Era the Structure is From Understanding how any home got from there to here requires careful observation. Some design elements and craftsmanship clearly point to a particular era, while other details that seem original can throw research off track. Like most old houses, the Schondorf house in Somers, N. Photo by John Kerick. Exterior inconsistencies can point up structural changes. The recessed panel on this front door plants it squarely in the s a lesser quality door, the other side has only flush panels.