Finding the date a property was built
Finding out the date a property was built is often necessary for insurance and other official purpose, but the means to do so is not always straight forward, and the ease with which it can be discovered may depend on whether or not the property is registered with the Land Registry. This article explains how to proceed.
Why the date of building is often sought
The most compelling reasons for this information are:
- A requirement for an insurance proposal
- A material defect has manifested in the structure of the property
- A desire to trace the history of the property
- A desire to obtain a copy of the original deeds
- To assist with obtaining a copy of the original plans held by the local authority
Understanding what documents are available
Authentic documents that will confirm the date of building, or at least a date very close to it are:
- NHBC certificates (National House Builder Certificates)
- Planning Permissions
- Building Regulation Consents
- Land Registry Title Register
- Original Conveyance or Lease
Where a property has been built within the last 10 years or thereabouts there will usually be an NHBC certificate in existence and this will provide the date of completion of the building. NHBC is the abbreviation for the National House Builders Council. It is a guarantee to the owner of the property that lasts for 10 years after it is built. Even if it is out of date, finding this certificate will still provide you with the date the property was built. The certificate will normally be held with the Conveyancing Deeds even if it has expired, although in most cases this will involve a visit to the solicitors acting for you when you purchased it, and hoping their file has not been destroyed, as they often are after 6 years or thereabouts.
Copies of these documents are not retained by the Land Registry, although you may be able to obtain a copy direct from NHBC via their portal.
Planning and Building Consents
When a new property is built it is necessary first to obtain planning permission and Building Regulation approval. These documents are retained by the local authority, who will usually provide them on payment of a copying fee..
Land Registry Title Register
Whenever a property is registered for the first time a Title Register is created and the date of its registration is recorded in the A section of the Title Register, usually as the first date in brackets, as in the sample below. It is a simple exercise to obtain a copy of the Register. An application online will usually provide you with a copy within 1 hour.
From the above, looking at the first date in brackets in the A section of the Register, one can see that the property was first registered on 3rd January 2003. This means that if a property was registered as soon as it was built, which is what happens today, the date in brackets in the sample above will be very shortly after completion of the building work, and should certainly be a sufficient date for most insurance companies.
Obtain an up to date copy of the Title Register
It has not always been the case that properties were registered immediately after completion of their being built, and although since 1998 Land Registration was made compulsory throughout England and Wales, prior to this date certain areas of the country became subject to compulsory registration at different dates.
Dates of Land Registration
- Land Registration was first Introduced in 1862 by the Land Registration Act of that date, but only as a voluntary system, which was ineffective.
- In 1875 the Land Transfer Act was legislated, but again this proved ineffective as there remained no compulsion to register.
- The 1897 Land Transfer Act introduced compulsory registration for the first time. London County Council became the first area to be affected.
- In 1902 Northamptonshire followed suit, but the amount of problems created resulted in a moratorium to extend compulsory registration to other areas.
- The 1925 Law of Property Act paved the way for further registration areas, and in 1937 Middlesex was included.
- From 1951 to 1998 all areas of the country were phased in for compulsory registration.
- In 1998 all remaining areas became subject to compulsory registration.
Land Registration Today
Builders usually apply to the Land Registry for approval of an Estate Layout, which results in the registration of the various building plots. They are allocated unique Title Numbers as they are completed and sold for the first time, and the date is recorded in the A section of the Title Register (first date in brackets).
First Conveyance or Lease
Where a Property is obviously a lot older than the date it was registered it may be possible to obtain a copy of the Conveyance created shortly after completion of the building work by obtaining copies of the Conveyancing Deeds.
For most intents and purposes the majority of persons looking for their building date will be achieved by obtaining the Title Register and/or the Conveyancing Deeds. You should note that the Title Register will provide the date of First Registration as opposed to the date of the building. If you wish a more precise date you can obtain this from the conveyancing deeds search, obtaining, if available, the first conveyance or transfer. The date on that will normally be a month or two prior to the date in the Title Register.