History of Home Building Kits

by Sydney Starkey

Do you know the history of kit homes? We break it down in this short article, giving a brief history that covers it all.

Home building kits have been around for centuries, offering individuals and families the ability to build their own homes without having to hire a professional contractor. The concept of a home building kit has evovled over time, eventually leading to the invention of factory-built homes like ours.

The earliest known home building kits date back to 16th century Europe, when log cabin kits were rising in popularity among American settlers. These kits included everything needed to build a small home, including the logs, nails, and instructions. This was a great option for building a home quickly and inexpensively.

In the 20th century, mail-order homes became more popular. Sears began selling home building kits in 1900, allowing buyers to choose from a number of pre-designed houses or send in their own custom plans. Companies like Montgomery Ward and Aladdin Homes stood as competitors to Sears in this category, but Sears is most often recalled as the category leader from this time period.

Sears "Preston" Kit Home (Photo courtesy of Sears Archives)

Home building kits have also been instrumental in providing housing during wartimes. These homes could be built quickly and effectiently for soldiers and their families, sometimes being called "Victory Homes". This helped boost the economy by creating manufacturing and construction jobs in countries at war.

The most modern equivalent of a kit home is a modular home. Modular homes are manufactured in a factory and assembled on your property. Modern kit homes (or modular homes) come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. Today's buyers can take advantage of advances in design and construction to make the dream of owning their own homes come true.

The overall history of home building kits reflects the desire of consumers to have control over the design construction of their homes. With so many options for home buyers to customize a modern factory-built home, this building method continues to rise in popularity and is expected to maintain that growth in the future.

Learn more about modular homes on our blog post, "What is a modular home?"