How do I Discover Who Built my House?

12 Replies

Or developed the neighborhoods in my city? this something I can discover through the library?

If your county has online records, you should be able to find out who bought, sold and improved the lot very easily. That will not necessarily tell you the builder, but it will tell you the developer. You might then be able to find out who the GC was by looking up who pulled permits. Tax records, deeds, permits, all can be used to find pieces of the puzzle.

If they do not have online records, you will have to go to wherever they store their records and look it up, and it may include several different offices to find out.

@Brandon Sturgill  

It will also depend on the age of your property.   We have an Edwardian home where the original registration reads:

"Mrs. A. Campbell erected home on lot {lot number from the plan} for her nieces."

The lot was surveyed out of the Montgomery-Campbell lands in 1898 and the area is now part of the downtown core of the City.    I doubt that Mrs. Campbell swung the hammer herself, but she is closest we have to a documented builder ;-)

@Walt Payne is dead-on. One of the first records you could check is the plat map of the subdivision. It should have the developer's name on it.

@Roy N. @Walt Payne @Jim Viens Thanks for the feedback, gentlemen. I think I my be a bit ambitious in my search. I really want to dissect who built the houses in my city; I want to start to think about the time period the house was built, who designed the property, what the materials were, what time of season the homes were built, and so on.  This is a component of providing a historical report to the end buyer of a rehab property. And I think it is fascinating to discover these details.

When I was rehabbing my primary residence, I found a piece of a lockset box buried inside the door jamb with the name, signature, and date of the carpenter that installed the doors. I want to be able to communicate more about who the folks were that constructed the homes.

Is this an historical neighborhood? I'm guessing that may be the only case where that much effort could make a difference in a deal. That being said...if you just enjoy the research as a hobby then go for it! Side-note...I geek out on historical research like that too. :) 

If the title company has the abstract for the property, chances are they'd be happy to give it to you. Sometimes they may charge you for having to dig it out of the files, but usually (around here), if they can find it, you can have it. Assuming it exists!

They really are fascinating to read (total geek-out!) - all the different owners, how/when the property was divided, built on, etc. 

I found out that a cattle pasture I own once had two little houses on it & the whole thing was at one time owned by a convent. Who knew?

@Jim Viens I am interested in the historical perspective as well, but in general, I target ranch homes built between 1950-1970. I want to know who was building houses in the city around that time.

A little off-topic but the most interesting legal description I ever came across working in the title industry was a metes-and-bounds description (not platted/subdivided) that included a call-out along the lines of "...then east to the big tree where Billy Bob killed a bear...."

For that visit to your local courthouse or historical society, get the copy of the original building permit, get a new property abstract, pay a visit to your local municipal agency as well as inspect your house closely.

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