Determining the age of your house

If the house is listed or as being of special architectural interest, then it is important to know why, as consent might be required for alterations.

Here, Philip Eddell, of Savills Country House Consultancy, explains how you can understand the age of your house…

"Whilst some houses have changed very little since they were built, many houses, particularly older houses will have evolved greatly throughout the generations.

"This might be the complete rebuilding or addition of accommodation. Most commonly, a house is dated by the appearance of its front elevation, for this is how a house is viewed. Often the oldest elements of a building are concealed within or underneath newer facades, built to raise the stature of a house according to the social aspirations of its owner. The house you see may be disguising a much earlier structure underneath.

"Through the ages, building styles have developed in line with the availability of materials and have been influenced by the great architects of the eras. In earlier times, it was common to rebuild properties with materials from older buildings.

"More recently, as wealth has increased and the standard of living has improved, houses have been altered and added to and some houses have seen enormous changes through the generations. This is often the case where houses have passed through many generations who have all made their mark.

"Understanding the age of a property is sometimes straightforward. Date marks are often left in brickwork, on cast ironwork or in timbers. The main structures of a house such as the roof, cellars, fireplaces or chimneys have often changed little due to the cost and work involved. Styles of brickwork or carpentry can give strong clues to the ages of the various elements of the more complex house.

"The National Monument Record contains details of all listed buildings which can provide a quite comprehensive review of property age and building features."

"Most people will often use the chronology of monarchs to describe the age of a house, such as ‘Georgian’ or ‘Victorian’.

"This is a well understood method of broadly categorising the age of a property by the architectural styles in fashion during these eras. Whilst this is a very useful starting point, it can be misleading as architectural styles and building methods do not follow a rigid timeline. Digging a little deeper with the right expertise, the real history of a building can be discovered.

"Understanding the history and evolution of a house might well influence future development and use as well as being a fascinating exercise."

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