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Assembly Required

Despite seemingly endless interest in decorating, landscaping, buying, staging and selling houses, actually building a house is a mysterious process that is mostly left to professionals. But for some homeowners, buying and in some cases assembling, a prefabricated home holds appeal.

A kit home can streamline the process of custom-building a house. While the prices aren’t bargain-basement, kit homes can cost less. Keep in mind that these homes cost more to build than just the sticker price on the kit. Buyers might have to pony up for windows, cabinets, fixtures, contractors, subcontractors and other features and services, in addition to purchasing the land where the house is located. The total cost to build the house, minus cost of land is called the turnkey price.

Kit homes come in many forms. They can arrive in flat pieces as panelized kits or as modulars — that is, premade cubes attached together to make a full house.

In the first decades of the last century, aspiring homeowners could order their house from a Sears catalog. Montgomery Ward sold house kits, too. Aladdin was another popular maker of kit homes in those days. The tradition is still alive, although not as widespread. Consumers in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Britain can order homes from another major retailer, IKEA, whose BoKlok branch sells terraced houses and apartment buildings.

After so much expansion resulting in a glut of empty McMansions, some home buyers think kit homes could be an answer to their desire to return to simpler, more energy efficient housing —especially because today’s kit homes are often very green. What follows is a selection of prefabricated houses in a range of styles — from modern and futuristic to rustic to historic reproductions — nearly all which have energy efficient and sustainable options or default designs. We’ll begin with the historic precedent: examples of the Sears Modern Home.

By Colleen KanePosted 23 December, 2011

Scott Ervin & Geoff Warner