Researching the history of your house

Heritage House
You may have just bought an old house and would like to know more about it or maybe you have decided to restore your house as authentically aspossible.

You may have located a house one of your ancestors lived in and want to find out about it or maybe you just want to know a little more about the people who once lived there.

Here are some steps you can take to find out more about your house:

1. Familiarise yourself with the history of your area.

Look at published histories of the area, newspaper and magazine articles, photographs, maps and plans. Talk to long-time residents. Council’s Library holds a range of Local Studies material. Contact the reference librarian on 9366 3888 and ask about the Local Studies Collection.

2. Obtain the title deed for your property

You may have this in your possession or your bank may hold it. Work backwards through previous titles to the original Crown Grant or work forward from the Crown Grant to the current certificate of title.

A plan deposited with the Registrar of Land Titles (NSW) shows the property boundaries each time a piece of land is subdivided and the record gives the names of owners of the land.  Solicitors usually undertake the search at the time of purchase of a property.

3. Look at maps and plans of the area

Council's heritage map is a great place to start. Parish maps can also assist you find out who the original landowner was. You can also speak to NSW Land & Property Information, who issue Parish and historical maps. The Western Sydney Records Office and the State Library of NSW are also great resources

4. Check Directories & Electoral Rolls

Many directories list householders and businesses. Work backwards through the years to trace previous occupiers of your property. The Sand's Sydney and NSW directories at the Eastgardens Library and the electoral rolls and telephone directories at the State Library of NSW are a good place to start. 

5. Check NSW Environment & Heritage and Botany Bay City Council records 

Work backwards through rates assessment records, which contain occupiers and owners names and descriptions of building. Council rates notice give the Deposited Plan number. Council Archives and records usually include past rates, minutes and valuation records; correspondence; zoning information.

6. Check Sydney Water plans

These plans locate buildings in outline and may include house names and numbers. Drainage plans of individual properties give owner's name, show positions of buildings and reflect changes in plumbing over the years.  Sydney Water rates notice gives Deposited Plan numbers and many also provide the house name. This then gives you more information to allow you to consult newspapers and magazines that were published around the time the house was built.

7. Check the Births, Deaths and Marriages records

Use Births, Deaths and Marriages records and Wills to research the families of previous occupiers of your house.

8. Other useful website

Web sites are changing all the time as more and more information becomes available so they need to be checked regularly. Try: