If you find that the rapid pace of today’s housing market exhausting or you are interested in old-fashioned, tiny houses from HGTV, you may have wondered about having kit homes. With a history of more than 100 years and a lot of today’s companies offering to deliver to your location for immediate construction, a kit home is no longer a dream.
In most cases, a kit home can be customized according to the homeowner’s wish and needs. Building with house kits provides flexibility while keeping the cost of the building affordable. Moreover, the whole process is not complex or complicated. A kit home has been around for more than a century. By knowing and understanding what you need to know about such a home, you will be able to decide if it is the right choice for you.
What are Kit Homes?
Non-traditional homes have been so popular as buyers become creative on their journeys to homeownership. The innovation of alternatives to traditional stick-built construction has made home building kits customizable, energy-efficient, and accessible to more people. And the best thing of all is it is affordable. You can now order a high-quality kit house from online retailers like Amazon. Then, you will have all the necessary materials to build a house delivered right to your building site.
A kit house is basically mail-order homes. Similar to prefab homes, a manufacturer delivers the home in parts. Then, either you or your contractor can stick-build it on your property. A kit home is much more affordable than hiring a contractor to get all the materials themselves. So, if you are asking, are kit homes cheaper than modular homes? Well, it depends on some various factors, such as the customization you make on the house.
You can order a house kit to build anything you want, such as a bungalow, home office, and even a 3-bedroom contemporary home. Though Amazon has revived people’s interest in house kits, they were already very popular in the first half of the 20th century. In fact, there were more than 100,000 kit homes in the United States between 1908 to 1940, as reported by an archivist from the University of Maryland. Sears is still the most famous kit home manufacturer from that era.
Home kits are available in a variety of sizes, quality, and floor plans. They are frequently more affordable than traditional houses. Unlike manufactured and modular homes, which companies build off-site, kit houses are only built on the land that the buyer wants as the home’s location. Moreover, such a home is not mobile once built.
How Much is a Kit Home?
The price of kit homes varies depending on some factors, such as the size, location, layout, materials, floor plans, and square footage. Though kit homes are often less expensive than traditional houses, these factors influence the final price. Still, they can be considerably more affordable to build compared to traditional houses. Many kit home manufacturers have business models that are similar to manufactured and modular homes.
In fact, many suppliers of home-building kits also offer modular options, which are delivered in parts and built off-site. Assembling or building kits in a climate-controlled area exponentially shortens the build time and, therefore, the labour cost. As the construction materials are bought in a great amount and delivered to a factory, the material cost is frequently less expensive than if you were to outsource all the materials for a new stick-built home.
The most modest house kit floor plan can be as cheap as $30 per square foot. These cheaper house kits probably do not come with drywall or even any interior elements. The cost of an average panelized home kit is around $40 to $80 per square foot. It comes with roofs and, of course, panels. Note that varying circumstances can also result in additional costs. For example, the land, utility setup, and appliances.
Therefore, it is better to include all associated costs to accurately calculate how expensive a kit home would cost you. It is also a good idea to talk with a general contractor to help you get a more realistic estimate and compare what different kits include before deciding to buy one.
How Much Do Kit Homes Cost to Build?
Now, let’s talk about the cost of building a kit home. The cost to build a kit house will be based on what you want and need. Besides the home’s components and materials, the construction and labour costs can also significantly rise the final cost. This is why you are suggested to talk with a general contractor to help you decide if purchasing a kit home is a good financial choice. Note that every manufacturer of kit homes offers different packages.
Moreover, they currently do not follow any federal regulations, resulting in some less expensive home kits but do not come with critical sections, such as a foundation. So, keep in mind that a cheaper price does not always mean a good deal. Moreover, buying land and making your lot home-ready can be pricey. For instance, if you build on a new field of land, you perhaps have to set up utility connections like electricity, gas lines, and running water, and pay contractors for the associated costs.
As you can see, it is essential to consider each aspect of building your own house to get an accurate estimate of the cost. A kit home manufacturer estimates that the kit amounts to just 25 percent of the total cost of the house once you include the construction labour cost, which typically costs $130 per square foot. If the house kit costs $15,000 and you still need to equip it with flooring, appliances, drywall, and so on, the material cost can double quickly.
What You Can Expect from a Kit Home
A kit home offers some benefits, and here are the biggest ones.
- Less Time Spent on Site
A kit home comes with all necessary parts to build the structure of the home. All parts are pre-cut at the factory and the kit contains detailed assembly instructions to help you assemble. Compared to building a traditional house, in which parts are measured and cut on-site, building a kit home shortens the time used on the construction site for putting together the structure. It can shorten even several weeks.
- Less Waste
When building a house with traditional methods, carpenters cut wood beams on-site and they cut what they need when they need it. As a result, there is no optimization of the materials. A lot of woods are wasted in the form of pieces that are too short to be used in the build. On the other hand, home kits are pre-cut at the factory by using an automated saw. This machine knows in advance all the parts it has to cut and maximizes the work. So, the waste can be as minimum as possible.
- Sourcing Materials and Services Locally
The home kit comes with all necessary parts to make the building weather tight. However, some materials are not included in the kit, and they have to be locally sourced in order to save on the transport cost. For example, the insulation. This allows you to buy those components at a lower price, saving you a significant amount of money. Locally sourcing materials and services can also make it possible for you to get competitive prices on technical installations and interior finishing works.
- Less Skilled Workforce
Since the cutting is done at the factory, on-site construction workers do not have to be skilled carpenters. It is also the reason why the homeowners can build the home themselves. Putting together the structure is pretty easy, thanks to the detailed instructions included in the kit.
What to Pay Attention To
Even if building a home with a kit is quite easy, good thoughtful planning is always needed. There are several things that can go wrong during construction, costing you time and money. Timing is crucial. There are specific things that you have to do in a certain order and follow a precise time schedule. Otherwise, your project might get stuck. If you are serious about building a kit home, you should spare some time to learn what could go wrong and what points need more attention.
You need to calculate your budget when you get more serious about it. Figure out the total cost of your project and make sure your budget meets.
Pros and Cons of Kit Homes
Whether you choose a conventional house, modular house, or kit house, they always have pros and cons. Moreover, though house building kits might be less expensive, financing it is as important a decision as a standard mortgage. Below are pros and cons of a kit home.
Pros of Kit Homes
- More Affordable
As it is said before, a kit home tends to be cheaper than conventional, traditionally built homes for some reasons. First, the manufacturer decreases the labour cost by manufacturing the kits in a controlled, closed environment. Second, they purchase the materials in a great amount, resulting in a lower price.
- Quick Construction
Since all required materials arrive together with instructions for every step of construction, building a kit home tends to take a shorter time. A kit home offers quick construction as every piece is pre-cut and labelled with instructions on how to assemble the home. Since your home could arrive within a month or less, you could build your home just within weeks.
- Quick Delivery Time
As it is mentioned previously, your kit home could arrive on your site within a month or less. The manufacturers can deliver it within a couple of weeks so that you do not need to wait for too long. Keep in mind that once your home has arrived, you need to build it either by yourself or a professional.
- Allows for Customization
As you know, conventional houses available on the market are limited and contractors who build the houses provide limited options as well. On the other hand, kit houses allow you to make a customization on your home according to your preferences and needs. This way, bringing your dream home is no longer a dream anymore.
Home manufacturers use materials to produce homes that can last half a century or more. Just like any other types of homes, regular treatment and maintenance will make the life of your house longer. Moreover, good construction and high-quality materials will also boost your home’s durability as well.
- No Prior Residents
Kit homes are brand-new homes delivered just for you. So, you will be the first one who live in it. Therefore, there are supposed to be fewer problems, or even no problem at all, from wear and tear or damages due to previous residents, just like in conventional houses.
Cons of Kit Homes
- Delivery Limits
Nearly all manufacturers have delivery limits depending on the location of your property. Usually, manufacturers will not deliver a house kit farther than 750 miles away. If you order one from a different state or outside the manufacturer’s usual delivery radius, you may need to pay an additional delivery fee to transport the kit.
- Location Can Increase Costs
The cost for kit homes is generally lower in metropolitan areas. However, if you are living in a rural area or les expensive region, you may see an increased cost for such a home.
- Little to No Standards
Kit homes are new in the economy and still growing in popularity. So, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has not yet applied any standardized regulations on this kind of home. As the result, the manufacturer you select could significantly affect the number and quality of parts you receive. For instance, one company may include drywall in your kit, but you need to source for the foundation or other essential components elsewhere.
FAQs About Kit Homes
- Is it a good idea to buy a kit home?
It all depends on your needs and preferences. If you are tight on a budget, a house kit might be a nice choice.