If you are looking to sell your house, there are many questions you may not yet have answers to like ‘when was my house built?’ and ‘who built my house?'. Knowing the history of your home is important to buyers who are often interested in every detail about the property that they are buying. how old is my house

Before closing the sale on your home, you may need to do some research to determine its age so that the buyer can be more informed. We will go through the steps for how to find out when a house was built and who constructed it.

How Old Is My House?

Determining when your house was built can seem like a complicated and daunting process. Uncovering the history of a home you are interested in buying can also leave you scratching your head. With a little effort and assistance, it's a lot easier than you might think! Our best advice: Ask us! We know all the tips, tricks, and methods to getting this kind of useful information, reach out and let us know what information you're looking for! If you want to do it on your own, the best place to start is to search online through municipality directories to find any public housing records about the property (We share some below). Depending on the location, you may need to go to the town hall and access information in person. Once you know where to look, you will be able to answer the question “what year was my house built?”.

Follow our step-by-step guide to learn more. JUMP TO STEP 3 if you're looking for the City of Calgary's historic housing info site. 

Step 1: Search for the Property Details

If you are looking up a home that is for sale on the MLS®, and just need some of the more basic details, the best place to start is to look up the details of the listing. Often, you will be able to find plenty of the information you are looking for directly on REALTOR® sites. 

The listing will include tax identification details, property assessment roll, when the dwelling was constructed, and other pieces of information that can help make your purchasing decision. These details will help you with the next steps.

This is the quickest and easiest way, you can find information and homes for sale via our interactive Calgary home search map

Here you can see a basic snapshot of a listing on our site - it includes a bunch of helpful and useful information.

Step 2: Access Municipal Records

To find the housing records you need, start by searching municipal websites, in some cases, you may have better luck going to where the local records are physically stored. Most towns should have information on past ownership, tax records, mortgage payments, title history, and any other historical details associated with the value of the property.

Step 3: Review the Data 

For the City of Calgary, you can use the 'MyProperty' website to quickly find a bunch of useful information about a property including:

My Calgary Services - What amenities are nearby your property (Parks, Police, Ctrain Stations, etc) 
Collection Schedule - Garbage collection schedule 
Permit Map - Map of development permits
Registered Secondary Suites - Map of registered secondary suites

You'll also find the land use designation of the property (R1, RC-2, C, etc) as well as the land use bylaws, which ward the property is apart of, the year it was constructed and much more. 

One of the easiest ways to find details about property is by searching through Canadian open data and geospatial data resources. Accessing the information about when your house was built can be done through:

  •         A spatial information system search
  •         Past construction plans
  •         Survey records
  •         Previous mortgages and liens
  •         Canada’s historic places records
  •         Virtual property exploration
  •         City housing records
  •         Searching public libraries and directories  

Once you have done the search, you are sure to uncover many details about the property such as when it was built, who has lived there, building materials used, previous value of the residence, who designed/constructed the home, and any changes/renovations made to the original layout.  

Step 4: Dig Through History

Online resources can be great places to start when trying to find out the history of a home. Finding records about previous tax information and any building permits or deeds that were given out by the municipality can help uncover when a property was constructed. 

While accessing these records online is useful to find quick answers, they can be limited with how far back they cover, so it will depend on if you are searching for an older home vs. a newer home. Some historical town archives may only go back 20 or 30 years depending on the resources and information they have.

Likely, you will find people who are genuinely interested in local history that will have tidbits of useful details for you and may even be excited to dig a little deeper to solve your mystery.

It could be that none of these resources have the exact details you are searching for, so you may have to go a bit bigger. You may find luck in reaching out to the county or provincial data resources as they may have the records you are looking for.

Most of these resources will be free of charge for you to access, but if you need physical copies or laborious research to find the property data there may be costs associated with them.

Step 5: Track Down Permits

Finding out what year your house was built may require you to find the original building permits. They will be able to tell you how the residence was altered over the years, any construction that took place on the property, and who was responsible for any work done.

In Calgary, a great place to start is by visiting this page, the planning and development resource library:  Here you'll find plenty of useful information, but please note, you will be limited historically in some situations, for example, development permits are dated from 1979 - current, and building permits are 2000 - current. 
These can usually be found at the town or city department that handles building permits and can tell you details about how old your house is by address lookup. In some cases, you may be able to find all the data you need directly online, saving you the bother of going in person.

Depending on the age of the house you are researching, permit information may be easier to track down for newer builds, but harder for older builds. Some records may be unclear with certain details, especially when form requirements have changed over time.

You might find one record that covers original build information, but it may not have anything to offer about changes that were made to the building 25 years later.

All building permits should be accessible through the city or town that the house is in, so searching their online data or visiting in person can be a great place to find that missing part of the puzzle. The standards for permits may have become more detailed, so you may find what the original builder had in mind, but it might be a simple drawing, whereas newer homes will require more descriptive design plans.

Any major changes that were made to the building and property would have required a permit from the city, which can clarify the purpose of certain construction. Major changes requiring permits can include details about:

  •         any additions
  •         renovations
  •         detached builds
  •         upgrades to plumbing or electric
  •         remodelling
  •         if the building was used for a new type of purpose, such as for a business
  •         property value assessments
  •         building materials used
  •         date of construction
  •         who the designer/builder was

How can I know who owns a property?

You can! By pulling the history / title of the property. 

Pro tip: If you need to pull the title on a property you can access this public record request system: SPIN2 Alberta land titles search (Including Historical) 

Who can use SPIN2?
Answer:  Anyone can utilize the SPIN 2 system who are looking to purchase or view Government of Alberta information related to land. 

With certain properties, you may find that figuring out how old it is may require the name of the property owner. More details from the owner may be needed to view historical data, so you may need to start your search with the owner.

Try searching online historical databases like The Canadian Register, land registries, or real estate records. Finding property records should include details about previous owners, how it was sold, and past tax statements that will include a billing address and name.

Previous ownership agreements

This data is not publicly available, with the help of a real estate agent, you can view homes that were sold on the MLS®, but the terms and conditions of that agreement won't be as detailed as you might think. This will be limited to the sale price, possession date, and other basic details. While it would be nice for this  information if you're looking to buy a home and want to see who was the original purchaser, this route / method is not likely to pan out. 

Government surveys and town archives

Knowing more details about when your house was built can be found in past government census records and city services agreements. Government records can provide information about how many people lived at the residence, size of the property, and how the property was used.

View the city of Calgary's Map Gallery for background information on homes including heritage property history and more. 
Any city services that were required in the planning of construction of the house, such as sewage systems and water access, should be accessible through the local city planning department. These records will show the year the installations happened and who the agreement was made with.

What historical property information can I find publicly?

When trying to figure out who built your house or how to find out how old your house is, the easiest place to look is online. There are many public housing records accessible with just a few clicks that can offer up all the information you need.

Publicly available historical records can offer details about a property, like:

  •         General information about the property, including address, municipality, zoning details, land size, blueprints, measurements of buildings, and tax history.
  •         Maps, pictures, and surveys of the land and building and how it evolved over time.
  •         Past property values and estimates, ownership agreements, liens, and transfers.
  •         Any past or ongoing building permits with details about who is responsible for the build.
  •         Data about the construction material used, property maintenance, building complaints, and what type of neighbourhood the property it is in.
  •         What environmental impact the building has, the quality of the land, and any natural risk factors the property could face.
  •         Public service records such as sewage or access to city water.

Remember that your Real Estate Partners agent can always pull a lot of this information up for you! 

Will I find the same public information for historical homes?

If you are interested in purchasing a more historical home, you may want to know more about the history of the residence. You may be curious about who previously owned the home, how it may have been changed from its original build, and how the property size was determined.

Since details may be harder to come by with older homes, there are archives of old records available through libraries, town halls, governmental programs, and historical societies. Reach out to local resources and find out what types of records they have available for the address you are curious about.

Getting your hands on historic public records about an older property can offer you details about original blueprints or architectural designs, when the building was constructed and by who, lot number, construction plans, address, and building materials.

Past insurance coverage and safety inspections can detail any structural issues that could have changed, or when certain installations took place, these are definitely harder to come by though.

Local resources like town halls and libraries are your best bet for these kinds of records.

Will accessing the records I need cost me anything?

Being able to find the information you need with a few clicks is great, but it is not always that easy. In certain cases, if you need to have someone find and scan and send you the relevant details, which may come with a small fee.

Accessing archives, which may be required to find the answer to “what year was my house built?”  might be worth the time and cost that comes with it. Being able to finally know who built your house, its original floorplan, and the history of past residents can have an impact on its value or its historical relevance.

The only other cost will be if you require the assistance of a professional to get a better understanding of the age of a property. Housing experts can help by making sense of forms, contacting historical and governmental agencies, tracking down missing information, and can point you towards other resources like lawyers, architects, or home builders. 

Hiring a savvy professional can save you time and can offer you assistance with anything you may be curious about, but their services might not be cheap, but can be worth it if they help you solve your mystery.

Housecreep Bonus

Warning, this site contains graphic written content (Police/news reports) While we definitely don't endorse this as factual or concrete evidence, this site has proven to be accurate in many  instances. It documents news stories and information pertaining to properties and covers everything from paranormal activity, to drug busts, homicides, and 

Posted by Cody Tritter on
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