What is a Pre-Cut Kit Home

Pre-cut kit homes sometimes referred to as mail-order homes are a cost-friendly alternative to the more traditional means of acquiring a house, i.e., purchasing a stick-built home or buying a modular or manufactured home.

A pre-cut kit home is sold in a ready-to-build package and either shipped to you or a designated contractor. It can be personalized, assembled, and installed by anyone that wants to create a perfect new home.

The kit contains all the building materials needed for the construction of a new house. Pre-cut kit homes combine the right proportions with clear instructions. Although it may take more time to assemble yourself, it is well worth the cost savings.

Delivery of the materials to the building site eliminates travel stress. When the contractor (or yourself) arrives, the supplies are ready and waiting to begin the build.

Not having to make 17 extra trips back to Home Depot or Lowes to get the items and materials you forgot the first time through makes kit homes a one-stop-shop for everything concerning the construction of your new home.

Reasons to Choose a Pre-Cut Kit Home

If you are someone who loves to customize, personalize, or otherwise assist in the design, you would love to personalize a pre-cut kit home.

Say the home’s style and cosmetics are a slight cost increase from what you expected, but you would be getting what you want. With a kit home, this won’t be a big deal because you are already saving so much money than buying a stick-built home. While home kits vary in size and style, it is easy to find home kits for about $10-$20 per square foot.

According to Realtor.com’s latest estimates, the average price per square foot for a home in the US is $123.

Another reason to choose a pre-cut home kit is choosing the amount of involvement you have in the project. You can choose to do everything yourself if you want, from putting up the home’s exterior walls to plumbing or even wiring the house’s electrical system.

You can also choose to contract out through a third party, which is also a great option, especially for those with physical limitations who cannot build the home.

The panelized parts make for fast construction, especially if you are contracting a builder for the building. There have been cases of classic A-frame design homes built in a week using this method!

The resulting houses are indistinguishable in appearance and are cheaper than modular homes.

Companies offering kit homes beginning in the early 1900s, such as Sears, Montgomery Ward, Gordon-Van Tine, and the Harris Brothers, offered generous mortgages and cash discounts just for choosing a kit home. This effectively paved the way for creating more modern styles and more comprehensive pricing on kit homes in America.

Top Five Kit Home Companies That Sell in the USA

Sears Kit Homes and Pacific Ready Cut Homes were only produced until 1940, but many people still remember their beautiful design and quality. Some of the homes can still be seen standing in places like Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.

  • KIT Custom Homebuilders was established in 1945 to pick up where the Sears Roebuck Company left off. Based in Caldwell, Idaho, they boasted of having reliable, quality homes with a personal touch. One of their main focuses is on only serving customers in the Western States (including Washington State!) to keep the company local. They take pride in providing many different construction and decor choices, striving for their trademark of “Your Home, Your Way” every time you purchase a kit home from them.
  • Lindal Cedar Homes is a major contender when it comes to choosing a pre-cut home kit. Established in 1945, this Washington-based company continues to sell its home kits internationally. Kit Home models start at $100,000 and range in sizes from 700-2,500 square feet. Their modern home design, paired with the finest lumber, puts them at the forefront of this construction type. A representative of Lindal construction, Michael Harris, states that they can ship a 3,000 square foot house on one truck. The cost savings of merely using one truck versus two is astounding. The homes use predictable, highly-refined architectural plans or floor plans to allow easy customization of windows, doors, walls, ceiling windows, solar panels, and more.
  • Located in Utah, Zip Kit Homes is another pre-cut kit home company with a lot to offer. Their focus is on high-performance, panelized kit homes. Michael Harris of Lindal Cedar homes states this allows them to maintain high quality while also using a rapid production process. This manufacturing process allows for faster production and shipping of the finished product, allowing the house to be on-site and ready to build in less time. Unfortunately, customization does not work well with this production method. The only customization they offer is “mirror image” changes, meaning you can purchase a kit home that is the mirror image of the ones displayed on their website. They suggest not buying the siding option or the interior finish kit if you want to customize those things independently. The external shell kits begin at $50,000, and you can find a comprehensive list of kit homes costs on their website.
  • Pacific Modern Homes, Inc., paired with Gold Country Kit Homes, offers over 35 different pre-made designs for customers. Their motto is “Build better. Build faster. Save money”. First, decide on the home plan that matches your budget and dream. You can change almost anything (cosmetic or structurally) at an adjusted cost. There is no need to find a local engineer with this partner company once you purchase the pre-cut home. Their plans include engineering for the complete structure, including the foundation (even if there is a basement, crawl space, or sloped lot). They even have an {[age-in-place]-mymoneymustache.com} option, so as you age, the home can be modified to enable you to continue living there. Their contemporary designs and comparable construction time allows them to be a valid option.
  • The last viable pre-cut home option is Shelter Kit. Founded in 1970, Shelter Kit strives to provide any individual the tools they need to build something themselves. They have also designed and produced kits for garages, cabins, guest houses, workshops, tiny homes, and barns in various shapes, sizes, and designs. There are barn or garage kits that also include living spaces, so the options are endless. The building kits include everything you will need to build a weather-tight, complete shell. They do not include any indoor materials besides subfloors, so there is more freedom to pick your preferred cosmetics. Each kit comes with extra helpful content for amateur builders, including drawings and step by step instructions. Shelter Kit is available to answer questions before, during, and after construction for all of their clients. If you have an issue or a problem, you can contact them anytime through their customer service portal.
Woman standing in front of a small gray mobile kit home

Other Kit Home Companies

There are a few other options for a kit home if you are searching for more. Avrameusa homes are affordable; they leverage engineering, architecture, and pre-cut lumber to provide an affordable and modern home.

Based on the European brand, they are coming to the USA to bring a new option to the pre-cut kit home hub. Avrameusa’s solo style plan (full package) begins at $25,000.

Landmark Home and Land Company is another viable option for a pre-cut kit home. They ship to all 50 states and internationally. Landmark is willing to work with structural engineers for projects that need extra attention. This is typically the case for intense climate zones or slopes.

Since 1993, they have been more than happy to work with special cases and are happy to assist with budgeting. They have many professional partners to work with, including design coordination with experts.

How Does a Pre-Cut Home Kit Work

A kit home is a home that is either assembled by you or a hired party from a package of pre-made, pre-cut building materials. There are a series of steps that should be followed to build and install the house properly.

First, pick out the location where the kit home will be constructed. If you choose to buy a Zip Home, they sell floor plans, a panelized system, and a complete finish kit all for one price.

The price to build the home is dependent on the local contractor you choose to hire. Some factors that may influence pricing are shipping distance, site location, or engineering requirements (i.e., if the area you chose is within a special climate zone).

You can buy the land, lease it, or build the home on existing land you already own. If you choose to lease, you must ask permission to build the house on the property and fulfill all necessary permits.

Small houses, or tiny houses, are also included in this if that is the route you want to take. Ask your structural engineer or land company for the costs before any work begins.

Finally, you or the contractor can begin building your home on the plot of land chosen in the previous steps. Inside the kit, you will find everything you need to finish building the house; all you have to do is follow the provided instructions. Composed of modern materials and easy to understand instructions, kit homes are most definitely an affordable option for purchasing a home in the United States!