What is a Kit Home?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2019
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A kit home is a home which has been assembled from prefabricated parts manufactured offsite. Depending on the style of home and the level of complexity involved, a homeowner may be able to put together a kit home, or it may be necessary to hire a contractor to do the work. Classically, kit homes come as shells, with the homeowner needing to finish the interior and exterior to taste. They tend to be less expensive than homes built from scratch, and in some cases they can be more environmentally friendly.

The earliest kit homes date to around 1906. In the teens, Sears Roebuck and Company began marketing kit homes which ultimately were very successful, and many people credit Sears with developing the kit home, although it in fact simply followed the model of other manufacturers. Numerous companies today manufacture kit homes, from very simple and inexpensive structures to complex homes which can be very valuable.


Panelized kit homes are made from panels which are manufactured offsite and then put together, with each panel representing a wall or segment of a wall. Kit homes can also be geodesic domes, timber frame, or log homes. Each style creates a very different look and feel for the finished home, and can be complex to very easy to build, depending on the options selected by the homeowner, and how the manufacturer handles its kit homes. For example, some kit homes require people to do some sawing and other construction, while others are designed to fit together with the use of minimal tools.

Much like a dollhouse, which is a scaled down version of a kit home, kit homes can be customized in a variety of ways. The construction quality of the home depends both on the materials used by the manufacturer, and the skills of the person or people who put the home together. Some manufacturers provide home building services or consultants who can help people with a kit home, while others leave this work to the homeowner.

Before a kit home is delivered, it will be necessary to survey the site, secure building permits, and establish a foundation for the home, with different companies having different foundation recommendations. Homeowners should also secure the services of plumbers, electricians, contractors, and other professionals who will help build and finish the home. From start to finish, putting up a kit home can take six months to several years, depending on a number of factors.


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