Kit homes were very popular in the 1910s and 1920s, with the bungalow style being one of the most adorable and affordable new homes for middle and working class Americans at the time. Unlike some other homes, the nature of these kit homes (and the fact that the buyer was responsible for building it) meant the initial cost was low.
In turn, extra fancy details could be ordered from the manufacturer like bead board, wallpaper, lace curtains, stained glass windows, and a host of other touches previously afforded only to the wealthy.
At around $700 to $2,200 in 1918, depending on size and luxury, these kit homes represented a significant price break for home buyers who could save a bundle. Buying or building a regular home averaged about $3,200 in 1915.
The details of these homes are so wonderful to look at. While many of the furnishings would be purchased separately, a stunning variety of floor plans, window treatments, lighting and decor meant each home customizable.
The new trend for sanitation and convenience meant that these wonder homes also had state of the art kitchens and bathrooms-a first for many working class families.
While there were many companies offering kit homes, the big name was Sears. With all their loyal by-mail customers, they quickly became the major supplier of kit homes. The boom in housing after World War I meant that many a home had to be built in order satisfy the demand.
Some of the smaller one story homes with simpler details were advertised as taking two men only 3 days to build!
With names like the Hollywood, the Alhambra, the Silverdale, and the Kismet, Sears kit homes came in selection of styles. From Arts and Crafts style to Spanish to English cottage, the variety offered included something for every taste.
Despite the low price and pre-fabricated construction, the fact that so many kit homes are still standing and in beautiful condition is a testament to how well made they were. The claims about quality in the catalogs have turned out to be, a century later, quite true. Many kit homes have survived in amazing condition and if you’ve ever lived in one then you likely know how lucky you are!