With hundreds of different designs, Sears catalog home kits became popular in the US during the early 1900s
Today, first time home buyers browse the market by searching the internet or hiring home builders to build their dream homes. Home buying is not an easy task to accomplish, especially if markets are down or if there are complications with costs of goods for a newly built house.
Imagine if there was a way people could order their homes and have them delivered to their doorstep, that sounds easier said than done, right? Well, there was once a way for people to order their homes right to their doorstep.
From 1908 to 1940, Sears Catalog allowed customers to purchase home kits. According to the Sears Archives, over 70,000 home kits were sold in the US with over 445 different designs. Heating equipment, plumbing and lighting fixtures were sold separately.
The kits arrived by railroad with 10,000 to 30,000 pieces and a 75-page assembly book. Customers could do most of the work themselves, but some homes were built with the help of neighbors.
The ability to mass-produce the materials used in Sears homes lessened manufacturing costs, which lowered costs for customers. Sears use of precut, fitted materials and “balloon style” framing, drywall, and asphalt shingles allowed homebuyers to build with ease and shortened construction time up to 40 percent according to the Sears Archives.
Sears catalogs eventually came to advertise three lines of homes: Honor Bilt, Standard Bilt, and Simplex Sectional.
Home Bilt tended to be the more expensive and best quality line of homes. Standard Bilt homes were best for warmer climates as they did not retain heat very well and the Standard Sectional only consisted of a couple of rooms and were ideal for summer cottages.
The Magnolia is the largest style of home and several are said to still be standing today.
Not only could people chose from the different designs the catalog had to offer, individuals could submit their own blueprints to order the appropriate precut and fitted materials needed to create a custom home kit.
With no clear tally of how many still stand, Sears’s Modern Homes are lived in to this day and can even be found in North Dakota. There is one account of a man who restored his grandparents Sears catalog home on its 100 year anniversary of being built according to DailyMail.com.
For more information on these homes, visit Sears Archives.