How to Read a Building Card


As each property was built in Shaker Heights, a Building Card was created. Information about the home, likely gathered from the original building permit application, was usually handwritten on the pre-printed cards. Below is an explanation of terms on the front of the original Building Cards. Note that not all cards were completely filled out, and that no information will be in the database if the original Building Card is missing for that address. The back of the first building card and additional cards if necessary (images visible in the downloaded complete pdf of each file) will list additional permit numbers, dates, and brief descriptions of repairs and renovations.


Building Card, Top (above the top line):

NUMBER-STREET: The address of the property; any street name or number changes will be marked here.

SUB-LOT: The original sub-lot number from when the area was first subdivided by the Van Sweringen Company.

PLAN FILE: A locator number indicating whether the home's blueprints were microfilmed before being destroyed. If there is a number other than '0,' contact the Local History Librarian for an appointment to view and make copies of the plans.

Permanent Parcel Number: An eight-digit number, generally written in the top right corner of the card, that corresponds to the property's location on county maps and to tax records at the Fiscal Officer's office. Search the Fiscal Officer's website using the Permanent Parcel Number or other means.

The word LANDMARK will be stamped on the card in red if the property is a local landmark.


Building Card, Left Side:

BUILDING PERMIT: The number assigned to the original building permit.

BUILDING PERMIT DATE: The date the building permit was issued, shortly before the house was built. If there is no COMPLETION DATE, this date is used to best approximate the age of the property.

OWNER: The owner of the property when the house was built.

BUILDER: The builder of the home.

ARCHITECT: The architect of the home.

DATE COMPLETED: If recorded, the date construction was completed.

ESTIMATED COST: The estimated cost of construction.

KIND: The type of home--one-family, two-family, etc.

DIMENSIONS: The dimensions of the building's footprint.

MATERIAL: The type of construction--frame, brick, etc.

HEATING: The type of heating installed at the time of construction.

INCINERATOR: Indicates if there was an incinerator.

ROOF: The original roofing material.

GARAGE: Sometimes indicates whether an attached or detached garage was built, and how many bays.


Building Card, Right Side:

List of permit numbers and contractor names for several sub-categories of construction, including sewer, electrical, etc.