Ever wonder what your home used to look like before modern 'improvements'? These handy tips will help you discover the origins of your old house.
Time Required: Learning about the original design of your home can take many months. If you have no blueprints, you'll need time to do some serious detective work.
- Put your house in context with how your country was populated. Where do people live in the U.S.?
- Learn about the history of your community. Ask your local historian. Ask a Reference Librarian where to look in your local public library. Does your town or city have a historic district with a historic commission? Anyone interested in houses, including real estate agents, often know a great deal about local builders and housing styles.
- Visit your neighbors and different neighborhoods. Their homes may mirror yours. Make maps of where houses were built in relation to local businesses, including farms. Was your house part of a farm whose land was split up?
- Go online. Websites like Nationwide Environmental Title Research (NETR Online), LLC continue to add to their databases. How to Find Free Public Records Online
- Consult your Building Inspector. Ask about building permits filed for your home.
- Examine fire insurance maps for your neighborhood. They may contain clues about the shape and structure of your home.
- Browse historic plan books for homes similar to yours. For example, if your home is a Bungalow, you can learn a great deal by looking at historic Bungalow Floor Plans.
- Read old advertisements.
- Hire an architectural investigator. By studying your home, a trained professional can recreate the original plans.
- Remember that your old house may never have had blueprints. In the early 1900s and before, builders rarely drew up detailed specifications. The entire process of building was handed down from generation to generation. In the U.S., architecture didn't become a profession until the 19th century and building codes and regulation were rare until the 20th century. How Did Architecture Become a Licensed Profession?