How do I get house plans of an old house?

Written by jennifer marlowe
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How do I get house plans of an old house?
Restore an old home with the help of vintage plans found online. (old colonial home windows image by Jorge Moro from

Find an old house plan for construction or restoration purposes by taking advantage of the various resources online and in print. To restore a Sears bungalow from the early 1900s, for example, find your home's original house plans among the reproduced plans taken from the 1908 Sears Catalog of "Modern Homes." Home plans for houses built before 1895 might be harder to find. Many options are available, however, to track down the planned layout of the house at the time of construction.

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Things you need

  • Computer with Internet access
  • Camera
  • Library card

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  1. 1

    Visit your county recorder's office, usually in the county courthouse, and look up your home's property deed. Real estate deeds contain a list of old and new owners and a legal description of the property. The government office holding the deed may go by a different name in your locality like land registry office or registry of deeds. Discover your home's construction date and skip to Step 3 if you know the home was a kit home built between 1908 and 1940.

  2. 2

    Photograph the exterior of your home from all angles. Use the images to determine the style of your home by heading to your local library and studying books such as "American House Styles: A Concise Guide" by John Milnes Baker or "A Field Guide to American Houses" by Virginia McAlester, Lee McAlester, Juan Rodriguez-Arnaiz and Lauren Jarrett. Send photos to a home restoration website such as or and ask an expert if your home's style remains a mystery.

  3. 3

    Look up the Sears Archives website, (see Resources), and click the years covering your home's construction. For homes built between 1908 and 1940, this site is a great resource even when your home started as something other than a Sears kit home. The illustrated house plans depict the most popular layouts of the time and should give you an idea what your home's original blueprint looked like.

  4. 4

    Explore other resources. Say your home was built before 1908, after 1940 or you find nothing similar to your house plan. Look around the neighbourhood for homes similar to your own. Chances are good that the builder constructed similar homes in the area. Ask to see a neighbour's floor plan to get an idea of what your home looked like initially. In addition, contact the city's historian and ask for old local newspapers or other information on residential construction of the time. Old newspapers often included advertisements with illustrated, sample house plans.

  5. 5

    Locate an architecture or history professor at the nearest college campus and the area's historical society. Although original house plans probably don't exist for a colonial home, homes from a particular era, style and region have similar characteristics. Take your home's photographs to any one of these local experts and ask for guidance.

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