The most definitive evidence of the construction of a house is a building permit, which is a document that grants permission to construct or make renovations to a building. Sometimes the building permit will even list the name of the architect. Building permits may be held by local building or planning departments. Older permits may have been preserved by the local library or historical society. Your best bet will be to contact your local municipality to see if they have maintained the building permits for your community. Even if your house was built before building permits were kept, you may still find information about later modifications and additions to your house.

Knowing the approximate date of construction, which you can obtain from the local property taxing district, and the legal description of the property will help in searching building permit files. If you do locate a building permit, note the name of the homeowner and any architect involved. While you are at your local municipal office, ask about the existence of any separate files for acquisitions of city easements, installation of sewers, and other city activities.