Local councils may hold building plans including floor plans, elevation and site plans which formed part of the application provided to them, at the time the house was built or extended. Availability and access will vary from council to council.
State Records may hold some Development Applications for heritage listed properties which include plans, as these are permanent value records. State Records also holds Council Works Committee Minutes for some Local Councils, which include the date of approval of the application for new builds or additions to existing buildings. Researchers are advised to search the State Records catalogue by the name of the council in which they are interested – for example City of Holdfast Bay.
Establishing when a house was built
The Lands Services Group (located at 101 Grenfell Street, Adelaide, ph (08) 8226 3983) can provide an over-the-counter building details search, which includes the year the house was built, the building condition, wall construction and roof construction.
Other information, including the certificate of title reference number, valuation and plan type reference numbers and sales details, is also available via the South Australian Integrated Land Information System (SAILIS).
A Property Location Browser is available via the Lands Services Group. This is a free map-based interface which can be used to search addresses and to view details of land administration boundaries. It also provides the certificate of title and valuation reference numbers.
House ownership and occupancy
The current electronic certificate of title lists the present owners of a house. To find the original or prior owners of your house, you will need to search through the previous titles to the property. For assistance contact the Land Services Group.
Previous occupancy can be traced through the rates paid to the local council. Rates were recorded in Council Assessment Books, many of which are held at State Records. These records are useful in the case of rented properties as the names of the occupants will differ from those of the owners.
State Records holds sale plans for housing blocks, some of which include details about the sale price and purchaser (GRG21/31).
State Records holds various local council records in which changes of use of a building may be recorded (e.g. Council Assessment Books, health inspector's reports and council meeting minutes). Newspaper advertisements and directories, held by the State Library of South Australia may also be useful.
Search the South Australian Heritage Places Database to find out which houses in your area are heritage listed. This database lists the section of the building that is heritage listed and provides the plan/parcel and certificate of title reference numbers. See also Development Plans.
Other sources of information
Adelaide City Council Archives - for information relating to buildings in the Adelaide CBD the Adelaide City Council Archives (the Archives) holds city building plans dating from 1924. The Archives also holds Council Assessment Books dating from 1847 which may assist you to find the age and former use of buildings as well as the names of former occupants and owners. The Archives are located in Topham Arcade, off 55 Currie Street, Adelaide.
Louis Laybourne Smith School Architecture Museum – the Museum holds South Australian produced architectural records:
State Library of South Australia - holds local and regional histories, along with almanacs and directories which give the names of residents by street name or suburb. For more information visit the State Library of South Australia at the corner of North Terrace and Kintore Avenue, Adelaide.
Local Libraries - check out your local library for publications on the historical development of your area. Published histories of the area, often compiled by local historians or heritage groups, may provide valuable background information on building development and often include images of houses in the area.
Local community - local residents can be an invaluable source of information about the history of the street or the ownership and occupancy of a house.
If you require any assistance with your research, contact a Reference Officer by:
visiting State Records’ Research Centre
completing the online enquiry form available on our website
calling us on +61 8 8343 6800.
This Fact Sheet can also be downloaded in PDF format - Researching the History of your House