Self-Built Kit Houses Are Nothing New

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If you’re no stranger to Pinterest, lifestyle blogs, or the internet in general, you’ve noticed the tiny house trend that continues to sweep the developed world. Even if you are a dedicated Luddite who hasn’t so much as a Myspace account, you may still have seen one or more cute little homes being erected in empty lots, fields, and backyards around your area.

Self-built kit and pre-fab homes are all the rage, and for good reason. Traditional house prices continue to soar in many desirable markets. Economies which still don’t seem to greatly benefit the average person make it hard for these individuals to buy homes. However, renting doesn’t make economic sense for people who are planning to stay in one area for many years, or who are in search of ways to build wealth through equity. Enter tiny homes that are prefabricated or available as kits, complete with utilities and all the comforts of home. They’re perfect for people who want to save money by building their own home, with the assurance of buildings insurance just in case of unforeseen issues.

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Even though the tiny house movement seems to many like a new trend, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Decades ago, kit houses were available through retailers like Sears, many of which are still standing today. In fact, the charming bungalow you grew up in may actually be a completed house kit in disguise. You can determine this by looking for a number of tell tale signs.

Stamped lumber is a dead giveaway, if you can find some that’s exposed. Another way is to inspect molding and trim for shipping labels, which will indicate that these materials were flat packed and delivered to the site where you now live. If you have a home floorplan available, compare it to historical floorplans of kit homes from retailers like Sears. If it’s a match, you know what you’ve got. Historical records kept by your city may offer some conclusive clues as well.


If you determine that you home was once erected from a kit, you are no doubt surprised that the home has lasted as long as it has. This is because there is a long tradition of quality workmanship and materials in kit built homes through the decades. For those who are wary of buying a primary residence that needs to be put together from a kit, this may bring some peace of mind. Turns out, these homes can last many decades.

It’s likely that today’s kit built and prefabricated tiny homes will last decades as well. In the meantime, they’ll help their owners achieve some financial independence through equity. Many of these homes are absolutely charming, desirable spaces which will offer the owner good resell value for years to come.

Regardless of what the housing market is doing in your area, you always have the option of buying an affordable tiny home. Perhaps you may even want to go with a historical kit house, put together by an owner decades ago. Whatever you choose, homes like these continue to be a great option for new homeownership.

Images from Barwon House by Auhaus Architecture + Interiors