Getting your file on!

When you’re close to buying a home (or you’re close to making an offer) the best thing you can do is visit the town’s offices to learn about the property. Most town offices are open 9 to 5 on weekdays. And their welcoming staff is happy to share the file for your prospective purchase. There’s always a file at the building department, and sometimes at the other town offices.

The building department’s file will include building permits, zoning records, special permits and decisions regarding the property. If you’re lucky, maybe even the architectural drawings. If it was built recently, it may have a site plan. If it’s part of a development, other aspects of the development may be available in the file.

If your home has a septic system, the public health office (or, in Lincoln, the building department) will have copies on file of the records submitted whenever someone pumped the septic system dating back usually to the 1990s. That is a great way to get a sense of how well the septic system has been maintained. There is no limit to the surprising information you can find out, in person, with your hands on the town’s records.

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