Discover Your Home’s History: Where to Look for Details on Your New Digs
By: Jamie Kreps
When it comes to homeownership, there’s an often-overlooked commodity to the value of your home: it’s history. While your home may be new to you, unless it’s a newly constructed home, it has a history that predates your ownership.
Many might not consider this “pre-them” information to be important, but the truth is, it could be highly invaluable. Knowing your home’s origins, events, and changes that occurred over the years can help you better understand any potential issues that arise during your time there.
Knowing your home’s history can help you in numerous ways. From restoration efforts to predicting potential dangers in older homes, it’s never a bad idea to learn your home’s past. So how do you go about gathering the necessary information?
Finding Your Home’s History
The easiest step you can take in locating information on your home is to do an internet search. In the digital age, there is an immense amount of information available on your property simply by entering your home address into a search engine.
A general online search of your property will give you information regarding current estimated values, previous owner names, and links to several other local sites with additional information. You may even be able to locate historical images of your home to get visual documentation of what your home looked like in the past. You should also be able to locate a link to your county auditor site with additional property information regarding any home additions, property changes and values through ownership changes.
This information can be particularly helpful if you’re looking to begin restorations or remodeling projects. In many cases, you can find either original contractor information, building codes, and even details on original materials used that can help guide you in any future changes.
If you’re looking for information on older homes, you may want to look into local resources. Often times, older records will not necessarily be available digitally and may require an in-person visit to gain the best insight into your home.
“To find your home’s previous owners or purchase history, you’ll have to search your county tax assessor’s office, county recorder, or your city hall.” – ArchitecturalDigest.com.
In most cases, the best place to start locally is usually your public library or county auditor’s office. Homeowner records are public knowledge and you will be able to find out information about previous owners through these resources.
In addition, once you’ve gained information about previous owners, you can further investigate any pertinent news pertaining to any other potential public information. This could include whether your home was involved in a fire, flood, or other natural disaster among other things.
Other Historical Sites
There are often several other organizations that keep records on area homes as well – especially historical homes. Try checking with local historical societies, area museums, and even genealogical organizations to find out further information about your home and its previous inhabitants.
Check Your Home and Neighbors
Lastly (but perhaps, should be most importantly), check around your home and with neighbors. Often, previous owners tend to leave items behind that can give clues to their time in the home. Check attics, crawl spaces and basements, and closet shelves for anything left behind.
“Artifacts you find in your attic, shed or yard can also provide clues about the people who once lived in your home. Exposed lumber in the attic or crawl space may show markings that can help identify your home as a kit house, for example, or provide clues about your home’s age.” – Forbes.com.
Another resource? Your neighbors. Ask around to see what your new neighbors remember about previous owners. They will usually be able to give a unique and first-hand account of things that occurred before you moved into the neighborhood.
Whether you’re looking to keep up on your home’s maintenance history for safety purposes or looking to restore or remodel, knowing the history is always a good idea. Start researching to see what you can find!