Kit House (Style Spotlight)

kit house style

By Bud Dietrich, AIA

Kit houses were America's first mass-produced, prefab homes, sold by Sears, Montgomery Ward, Gordon Van Tine, Aladdin and a few others. The materials for these homes, ordered straight from a catalog, were delivered to the building site by rail and truck. Remarkably, all of the parts, from lumber to windows to the kitchen sink, were delivered ready for assembly by a local contractor or even the owner.

As the popularity of the kit house grew, so did the available styles and sizes. Sears and others were able to produce homes that catered to every pocketbook and every taste. More than 70,000 were sold throughout America, and many of these homes are still standing. In fact, there are several communities from Maine to Illinois to California that boast a large, intact collection of kit homes.

Like the bungalow, the kit home started with the dawn of the Auto Age and the ensuing growth of first-ring suburbs.

Kit Houses Stand the Test of Time
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Kit House (Style Spotlight)

Kit houses came in many different sizes, styles and types. All of the material for this Craftsman kit house would have been ordered through the retailer's catalog and delivered to site by rail and truck.

As one lot owner after another ordered from the catalog, it wasn't unusual for entire neighborhoods to be built almost exclusively of kit homes.

Initially designed as small homes for small lots, and marketed to budget conscious purchasers, these homes have a richness of detail that belies their modest origins.

Kit homes are ripe candidates for renovations and expansions. By adding windows to this living room, this kit home is made more attractive for today's owners.

Like the bungalow, the typical kit house kitchen was originally modest and basic. Through renovation, remodel or a possible addition, these kitchens can meet 21st century desires for spaciousness, light and convenience.


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