When getting a home insurance quote you are likely to be asked “when was your house built?”
This is a mandatory question when getting house insurance because the age of the house reveals a lot about the property and has an impact on the premium you pay.
It is generally the case that older properties use materials or techniques that are more expensive, and older properties may also need more expensive maintenance (and therefore risk that an owner doesn’t do that).
Generally newer houses will be cheaper to insure because they are less likely to experience wear and tear. Modern construction methods may also present less risk than historical approaches and more workmen are trained in modern standard techniques – so easier and quicker to find someone to fix your house in the case of any damage.
Home insurers are likely to have different views about the risk of when your house was built and so it’s worth shopping around.
Most home insurers will also use bands of time as part of their pricing – so an exact date of 1963 could fall into a 20 year span of 1960 – 1980. So if you think in this example that your house was built around 1960, it’s worth checking to get the correct date, as a 1959 home could be 10% more expensive to insure than a 1960 one.
If you can’t get the exact date then a best guess is likely okay (but don’t say that a Victorian house was built in 1990 – fraud is still fraud!) but you may accidentally fall into a more expensive band with that guess. Ultimately the insurers bands are arbitrary but there are mostly around six or seven bands that each insurer will use, with slight variations.
If your property is listed then you may find fewer options with house insurance, or some insurers will deliberately load a premium to scare off cover that might present them with a higher risk. However at Emerald Life we are often able to provide listed building insurance as well as other difficult to insure properties such as non-standard construction materials, second and holiday homes and coach house insurance.
If your home was built a very long time ago, say, before 1800, then you may need a specialist insurer because of the special skills required to (re)build any damage, and also there are fewer underwriters who can correctly price that risk.
How Do I Find Out When My House Was Built Online?
The Land Registry is a good starting point when your house was built online. Here you can find information about a property in England or Wales and understand how far its general boundaries extend and even whether it’s at risk of flooding. Also you may find more details in any survey that was done as part of a mortgage application.
When Was My House Built? Other Ways to Find Out
If you are buying a house and are wisely buying buildings cover before exchange then you can ask your estate agent to ask the seller when the property was built, although it is still your responsibility to check that the date is correct if you are making any declaration.
You might also be able to check your mortgage survey and other documentation completed for the sale.
A lengthier process could involve asking your local authority as they should have records of when planning permission was granted for the construction if the house was built more recently. However, bear in mind that occasionally records get lost in a local authority, particularly when records were transferred from microfiches to electronic files – so it’s not a perfect solution.
If you have an older house then there are other ways to find when your house was built as more information is publicly available. It is also likely your home will have more distinctive architectural features that could offer more clues.
You can search the 1862 Act register on HM Land Registry’s digital archives. This was the Government’s first attempt at recording property ownership information. It contains information on 2,000 properties, which you can search for free. This is another way to find out when your property was built online, although you cannot search by address, so you may need some more historical information than you actually have,
Prior to this there was no single method of recording and so you may need to look more locally for the information, or even see if the papers held with your conveyancer include all the old deeds (which sometimes happens – and they often make for a very interesting read.
You could check historical editions of Ordnance Survey maps.
Historic England provides information on estimating the age of your property based on architectural style and features of the house, especially the roof and windows.
Look at census returns made at ten-year intervals between 1841 and 1911 to find a first mention of the address.
Going offline, you could check your local parish records, county record offices or your local library for local archives.