Monday, June 15, 2015

5 Essential Facts You Should Know About Kit Homes

In the first half of the 20th century, Kit Houses became popular among people who would like to build their own home. Kit houses refer to a type of housing that started in the United States and Canada. These houses are popular known as mail order homes, mill-cut houses, catalog homes, ready-cut houses, and pre-cut houses.

Between 1908 and 1940, there were more than 100,000 kits houses were built in the United states and they became essential part of architectural history. Aladdin Homes of Bay City, Michigan was the pioneer kit house manufacturer in 1906. But 1908 was the year when the largest builder of kit houses (Sears, Roebuck and Co.) started to enter the material and house plans in the market.

Below are some interesting facts that everyone should know about Kit Houses:

1. After Sears Roebuck began marketing this type of housing, other local companies followed its footstep in the kit home manufacturing:

·         Lewis Liberty Kit Homes (Bay City, Michigan)
·         Sterling Kit Homes (Bay City, Michigan)
·         Bennett Homes (North Tonawanda, New York)
·         Montgomery Wards (Chicago, Illinois)
·         Harris Brothers (Chicago, Illinois)
·         Pacific Ready Cut Homes (Los Angeles, California)
·         Gordon Van-Tine (Davenport, Iowa)
·         Ready Built House Co. (Portland, Oregon)

Up until now, Sears Roebuck is still the most popular kit home manufacturers. Clients have enjoyed the convenience and affordability of a prefabricated household.

2. Construction of Kit Houses gradually decreased of stock market problem in 1929. In 1940, Sears produced its last Book of Modern Homes. Popularity of kit home started to slow down, but in 1980s, people have started to look for affordable housing and they found kit houses.

3. Clients would receive all of the needed home supplies in shipments by one or two railroad boxcars. New homeowner either assemble the house all by himself or contact a local housing contractor. Material were usually consist of 10,000-30,000 pieces of lumber assembly either by the new homeowner or a local contractor.

Compared to other type of homes, kit homes were built using separate piece of lumber that were already numbered and cut to fit on each section of the house. Kit home manufacturers provided instruction manuals for the builder. This strategy saved time, eliminating the measuring and cutting of materials.

4. Kit homes came in a wide array of styles, designs and prices and they were generally cheaper than conventional home building option. Homeowners were able to save about 30 percent when they built their own home using kit. About 50 percent of kit houses were built by its respective homeowners and other percentage were built by professional home builders.

Kit House companies (Sears, Montgomery Ward, Gordon-Van Tine, and Harris Brothers) have offered generous discounts and mortgage terms for their clients.

5. Some kits house companies only offered to sell house plans or non-pre-cut versions of the house, leaving it up to the client to but the materials, arrange home construction and other carpentry works. Sears encouraged its patronizers to purchase lumber and other materials from local lumber mills. The company wanted to have a cost-effective option for buyers by buying locally made materials.

Furthermore Gordon-Van Tine has offered cash discounts to its clients who selected lesser-quality siding, doors, roofing, trim, and windows.

Sear have offered over 370 house designs during its 32 years of selling kit homes. It includes Prairie style, Cape Cods, Colonial and Tudor Revivals, bungalows, Foursquares, and more.

The idea on building your own home and saving up to 30 percent has appealed to novice and wanna-be homeowners across U.S. and Canada. From blue-collar workers to middle class and affluent personalities, kit homes offered the title of owner-builder of your own humble abode.

Article By:  Candice Larson is an architectural enthusiast and also a film lover. She's blogs about everything. Currently, Candice is taking her graduate studies on Creative Writing.

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