One piece of information that you will almost always have for your home or building is the address. Therefore, once you've learned a bit about the property and looked for local clues, the next logical step is to search documents that are based on a building's address and location. Such documents, including property records, utility records, maps, photographs, architectural plans and more, may be housed in the local library, historical society, local government offices, or even in private collections. Check with your local genealogy library or genealogical society for help finding the location of the following records in your specific locality.
Learn where building permits are kept on file for your building's neighborhood - these may be held by local building departments, city planning departments, or even county or parish offices. Building permits for older buildings and residences may be preserved at libraries, historical societies or archives. Usually filed by street address, building permits can be especially useful when tracing a house history, often listing the original owner, architect, builder, construction cost, dimensions, materials, and date of construction. Alteration permits provide clues to the building's physical evolution over time. On rare occasions, a building permit may also lead you to a copy of the original blueprints for your building.
If other means fail and the building isn't too old or rural, the date when utilities were first connected may provide a good indication of when a building was first occupied (i.e. a general construction date). The water company is often the best place to start as these records generally pre-date electrical, gas and sewer systems. Just remember that your home could have been built before these systems existed and, in such cases, the date of connection will not indicate the construction date.
Historical insurance records, most notably fire insurance claim forms, contain information about the nature of an insured building, its contents, value and, possibly, even floor plans. For an exhaustive search, contact all insurance companies who have been active in your area for a long length of time and ask them to check their records for any policies sold for that address.