Why Sears 'Kit' Homes Are Cataloged as American Classics [Video]

Ordering a home from a catalog was at one time as normal as ordering a book on Amazon. Take for example the home in the video above, built in 1928 from a design sold by Sears. Known as "The Martha Washington," the model (pictured below) could be had for $3,727 -- with some assembly required.

sears catalog home
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Here's how it worked: After choosing from among the many home styles (eventually numbering 447) that Sears featured in its Modern Home department, the home would be shipped in precut, numbered pieces by train or truck to the address where it was be constructed. The kits could fill as many as two railroad boxcars and included blueprints, instructions and all the necessary materials -- lumber, drywall, plumbing, shingles -- right down to the nails. They were also designed in such a way that they could be easily customized, and be erected by only one person.

Sears estimates that it sold as many as 75,000 of the homes through mail order from 1909 to 1940, and it's believed that similar "kit" homes from its competitors brought the number constructed to about half a million in the U.S. And not only did Sears' kit houses make homes more affordable by reducing the cost of construction, financing could also be part of the package.

Though Sears' Modern Homes haven't been available for nearly 75 years, the concept persists and ready-to-build kit homes can still be purchased. See more about classic kit homes in the slideshow below.


Kit Houses Stand the Test of Time
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Why Sears 'Kit' Homes Are Cataloged as American Classics [Video]

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.


More about easily assembled homes:
SEE: Hamptons Eco-Home Built From Shipping Containers
Why Your Next Home Should Be Prefab
Tiny Prefab Living

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