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Building architectural style as a clue to building age:
Here we provide a photo guide to determining the age of a residential or light commercial building by examination of the architectural style of construction or the building materials and components that were used in the structure.
Here we list some helpful
clues to answer the question "how old is the house?" and we provide photographs of key visual
clues useful for determining the age of a building.
For more details about identifying and dating building or building component see the building component or construction method article links listed at the "More Reading" links at the bottom of this article
Photo Examples of Architecture & Style Providing Typical Dates of Construction
The age of a building can be determined quite accurately by documentation, but when documents are not readily
available, visual clues such as those available during a professional home inspection can still determine when a house was built by examining its components, building materials, even nails, fasteners, and types of saw cuts on lumber.
Our page top photo shows a Mid-Victorian multi-floor structure built in Hudson, NY, USA ca 1874. The entire building exterior facade is made of cast iron, including the window parapets and sills and the faux stone exterior walls and corner quoins.
While building architectural styles such as "Victorian" continue to be built into the present, the combination
of a recognizable architectural style with an inspection of the building materials which have been used provide
considerable information about the age of a home as well as its history of changes and additions.
Photographic Example of Early Victorian Style Architecture ca 1850
This frame building in Hudson New York is dated ca 1850.
We are not sure why "Victorian" is applied to this home based on its exterior, other than the window type and size and entry door design.
Photographic Example of Mid-Victorian Style Architecture ca 1874
This photo shows a Mid-Victorian multi-floor structure built in Hudson, NY, USA ca 1874.
The entire building exterior facade is made of cast iron, including the window parapets and sills and the faux stone exterior walls and corner quoins.
Photographic Example of Colonial Style Architecture ca 1875
This photo shows a Colonial style home built in Newburg, NY, USA ca 1875. You can also see some of the framing details of this home at FRAMING MATERIALS, Age, Types.
Example Photographs of Neo-Victorian Style Architecture ca 1900
The home shown just above was constructed at 57 South Grand Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY ca 1900 and includes numerous Victorian architectural designs as well as turned barrel stave porch columns made in Brooklyn, NY.
(Later restored by the author, photo above right shows copper-lined eaves trough gutter reconstruction in process.)
By 1984 the home had been covered with aluminum siding and indoors ceilings by ceiling tiles and other newer materials that were removed during restoration work.
This house at 57 South Grand Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY and the work at which I am shown pounding away (above) back in the 1980's is shown (in sadly deteriorated condition) below and is discussed thirty years after that job,
at PORCH COLUMN REPAIR or REPLACEMENT
Photographic Example of Modern Dutch Colonial Style Architecture ca 1939
This home was constructed in Poughkeepsie, NY ca 1939. While the basic shape follows a two story Dutch Colonial design, the building exterior has been covered by a PermaStone veneer, probably applied during the 1960's.
Log Home Styles
Antique and pre-colonial log homes and log cabins are described
at ANTIQUE & OLD LOG CABINS as is the sod-roofed home shown just below. This antique sod-roofed log structure is located in Oslo, Norway.
Below is a more recent but traditionally-constructed log home:
20th century log homes such as this Michigan home are discussed
at LOG HOME GUIDE
Continue reading at ARCHITECTURE & BUILDING COMPONENT ID where we aid in identification of building architecture, components, and styles, many of which also can help date the era of construction of a building. or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
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Questions & answers or comments about identifying the age of a building or its components, systems, or materials of construction
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Building Technology Heritage Library, produced by the Association for Preservation Technology, is a superb resource for old building researchers, owners, or restorers. website: https://archive.org/details/buildingtechnologyheritagelibrary
This library offers large collection of books (over 8000 in July of 2016), catalogs and other documents that are provided free to the public in a variety of electronic forms such as in PDF format or as .epub documents. The collection includes documents that are rarely found in other libraries nor in other online collections for preservationists.
Excerpt: The Building Technology Heritage Library (BTHL) is primarily a collection of American and Canadian, pre-1964 architectural trade catalogs, house plan books and technical building guides. Trade catalogs are an important primary source to document past design and construction practices. These materials can aid in the preservation and conservation of older structures as well as other research goals.
About the Building Technology Heritage Library
The BTHL contains materials from various private and institutional collections. These materials are rarely available in most architectural and professional libraries.
Note: On the home page for each item, there is a section as the bottom called "Reviews" It will list previous comments or ask "Be the first person to write a review." Please comment about items, as this helps the library and association better understand their users.
Special thanks to Mike Jackson, FAIA American architect and InspectApedia reader for suggesting this superb resource. Mr. Jackson can be contacted by email at email@example.com
Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Mr. Cramer serves on the ASHI Home Inspection Standards. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com
John Cranor is an ASHI member and a home inspector (The House Whisperer) is located in Glen Allen, VA 23060. He is also a contributor to InspectApedia.com in several technical areas such as plumbing and appliances (dryer vents). Contact Mr. Cranor at 804-747-7747 or by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, have provided us with (and we recommend)
Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates' Technical Reference Guide to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment ($69.00 U.S.). Technical Reference Guide, Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates, Ltd., 120 Carlton St. Suite 407, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 4K2 Canada, ISBN 1-895585-90-2 165pp.
American Plywood Association, APA, "Portland Manufacturing Company, No. 1, a series of monographs on the history of plywood manufacturing",Plywood Pioneers Association, 31 March, 1967, www.apawood.org
Asbestos products and their history and use in various building materials such as asphalt and vinyl flooring includes discussion which draws on Asbestos, Its Industrial Applications, D.V. Rosato, engineering consultant, Newton, MA, Reinhold Publishing, 1959 Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 59-12535 (out of print).
Building Research Council, BRC, nee Small Homes Council, SHC, School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, brc.arch.uiuc.edu. "The Small Homes Council (our original name) was organized in 1944 during the war at the request of the President of the University of Illinois to consider the role of the university in meeting the demand for housing in the United States. Soldiers would be coming home after the war and would be needing good low-cost housing. ... In 1993, the Council became part of the School of Architecture, and since then has been known as the School of Architecture-Building Research Council. ... The Council's researchers answered many critical questions that would affect the quality of the nation's housing stock.
How could homes be designed and built more efficiently?
What kinds of construction and production techniques worked well and which did not?
How did people use different kinds of spaces in their homes?
What roles did community planning, zoning, and interior design play in how neighborhoods worked?
Isham: "An Example of Colonial Paneling", Norman Morrison Isham, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Vol. 6, No. 5 (May, 1911), pp. 112-116, available by JSTOR.
Manufactured & Modular Homes: Modular Building Systems Association, MBSA, modularhousing.com, is a trade association promoting and providing links to contact modular builders in North America. Also see the Manufactured Home Owners Association, MHOAA, at www.mhoaa.us. The Manufactured Home Owners Association of America is a National Organization dedicated to the protection of the rights of all people living in Manufactured Housing in the United States.
Pergo AB, division of Perstorp AB, is a Swedish manufacturer or modern laminate flooring products. Information about the U.S. company can be found at http://www.pergo.com where we obtained historical data used in our discussion of the age of flooring materials in buildings.
Plank House Construction: webslog from plankhouse.wordpress.com/2009/01/25/plank-house-construction/ and where plank houses were built by native Americans, see
Large 1:6 Scale Plank House Construction / P8094228,
Photographer: Mike Meuser
06/12/2007 documented at yurokplankhouse.com where scale model Museum quality Yurok Plank Houses are being sold to raise money for the Blue Creek - Ah Pah Traditional Yurok Village project.
Scott C. LeMarr has provided his file of keys to decode Furnace and Water Heater Age from the data provided on the manufacturer's equipment labels. Mr. LeMarr is
a professional home inspector, Certified Professional Inspector/President,
MASTER Indoor Environmental Specialist (MIES).
Vice President of Wisconsin NACHI. He and his company, Honest Home Inspections, LLC. can be reached at
262-424-5587 or by email to email@example.com
Square D Circuit Breaker Recalls, announced by the US CPSC, recalls include a Square D GFCI circuit breaker distributed by Square D, and a Counterfeit Square-D circuit breaker sold through Scott Electric
FLOORING MATERIALS, Age, Types: history of types and age of different flooring materials: Asphalt or vinyl-asbestos floor tiles, sheet flooring, linoleum, ceramic tile, carpeting, wood floor types and materials
Abatron EpoxyWood Repair/Restoration 5501 - 95th Avenue, Kenosha, WI 53144 USA Tel: (262) 653-2000
Fax: (262) 653-2019, For orders: (800) 445-1754 Abatron provides a wide range of wood & building restoration epoxy products including a low-viscosity system that penetrates and solidifies rotted wood and a thicker wood repair putty type epoxy.
Tremont Nail Company offers steel cut nails for authentic restoration projects and work on historic buildings
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
"The Elimination of Unsafe Guardrails, a Progress Report," Elliott O. Stephenson, Building Standards, March-April 1993
"Are Functional Handrails Within Our Grasp" Jake Pauls, Building Standards, January-February 1991
Access Ramp building codes:
Access Ramp Standards:
ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), Public Law 101-336. 7/26/90 is very often cited by other sources for good design of stairs and ramps etc. even where disabled individuals are not the design target.
ANSI A117.4 Accessible and Usable buildings and Facilities (earlier version was incorporated into the ADA)
ASTM F 1637, Standard Practice for Safe Walking Surfaces, (Similar to the above standards)
"Energy Savers: Whole-House Supply Ventilation Systems [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Whole-House_Supply_Vent.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy energysavers.gov/your_home/insulation_airsealing/index.cfm/mytopic=11880?print
"Energy Savers: Whole-House Exhaust Ventilation Systems [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Whole-House_Exhaust.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy energysavers.gov/your_home/insulation_airsealing/index.cfm/mytopic=11870
"Energy Savers: Ventilation [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Ventilation.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy
"Energy Savers: Natural Ventilation [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Natural_Ventilation.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy
"Energy Savers: Energy Recovery Ventilation Systems [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Energy_Recovery_Venting.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy energysavers.gov/your_home/insulation_airsealing/index.cfm/mytopic=11900
"Energy Savers: Detecting Air Leaks [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Detect_Air_Leaks.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy
"Energy Savers: Air Sealing [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Air_Sealing_1.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy
Falls and Related Injuries: Slips, Trips, Missteps, and Their Consequences, Lawyers & Judges Publishing, (June 2002), ISBN-10: 0913875430 ISBN-13: 978-0913875438 "Falls in the home and public places are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in the United States, but are overlooked in most literature. This book is unique in that it is entirely devoted to falls. Of use to primary care physicians, nurses, insurance adjusters, architects, writers of building codes, attorneys, or anyone who cares for the elderly, this book will tell you how, why, and when people will likely fall, what most likely will be injured, and how such injuries come about. "
Humidity: What indoor humidity should we maintain in order to avoid a mold problem?
Slips, Trips, Missteps and Their Consequences, Second Edition, Gary M. Bakken, H. Harvey Cohen,A. S. Hyde, Jon R. Abele, ISBN-13: 978-1-933264-01-1 or
ISBN 10: 1-933264-01-2,
available from the publisher, Lawyers ^ Judges Publishing Company,Inc., www.lawyersandjudges.com firstname.lastname@example.org and also from the InspectAPedia Bookstore (Amazon.com)
The Stairway Manufacturers' Association, (877) 500-5759, provides a pictorial guide to the stair and railing portion of the International Residential Code. [copy on file as http://www.stairways.org/pdf/2006%20Stair%20IRC%20SCREEN.pdf ] -
Mold-Resistant Building Practices, advice from an expert on how to prevent mold after a building flood and how to prevent mold growth in buildings by selection of building materials and by anti-mold construction details.
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: email@example.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones