The title of this article might be a bit confusing. The topic is how to figure out how old a home is, not dinner and a movie! As professional home inspectors we have a few creative ways to estimate the age of the home when necessary. Dating homes can be helpful for many reasons. You may want to verify that the records you have for the age of the home are consistent with the indications at the property. Also, knowing that a furnace or air-conditioner lasts about 20 years can help you confirm that a home built around 20 years ago either has or likely needs a new unit.
A few of our tricks are as follows:
1. Check inside the panel cover in the main electrical panel for the city final inspection date stamp.
2. If you know that the furnace and water heater are original you may be able to get the date from these appliances.
3. Look for dates stamped in the area sidewalks.
4. Porcelain plumbing fixtures (toilet tank or lid) often have a date of manufacture stamped into them on the tank interior.
5. Thermal pane windows with a metal strip separating the two panes that may have a date stamp on the divider strip.
6. If the home has aluminum wiring in the branch circuits it was probably built between 1965-1975 (the Vietnam war era).
7. If the home has knob and tube wiring it was probably constructed prior to the late 1940’s.
8. Homes built before about 1960 had two-prong electrical outlets and plaster walls, conversely three-prong outlets and gypsum board (drywall) walls were installed after the early 1960’s.
Also, keep in mind that some important environmental bans took place in 1978 (i.e. lead based paint, asbestos in building materials). The guidelines listed above can help you date a home but they are not faultless. If you get dates from the dual pane windows you might only be dating a window replacement project, not the actual age of the home. Dates on appliances and porcelain fixtures indicate the date of manufacture, not the date of installation. These methods are designed to provide supporting evidence regarding the age of a home. Good luck with the remainder of your detective work.
Advantage Inspection Service offers professional Phoenix home inspector services, not only for Phoenix, but for the entire metro area, including Scottsdale, Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Glendale and other local cities.