Contemporary Kit Homes
Kit homes, also called catalog or mail-order homes, come shipped to your door in flat-packs with pre-cut (and often partially assembled) materials you can assemble yourself on your property. They first cropped up in North America in the first half of the 20th century, and they’re as popular as ever among folks seeking low-cost living on a small footprint—the structures start at truly tiny 60 square feet but can be as large as 1,000 square feet, with the majority falling somewhere near the middle. Kits make these dwellings especially DIY-friendly to build, usually including all instructions and materials (except for foundation materials and roof shingles), to boot. Big or small, contemporary or traditional, kit homes are an intriguing alternative for homebuyers today, so whether you have big dreams for a tiny house, office, or vacation retreat, click through for 14 of our favorite mail-order homes to find the one you love.
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Stillwater Dwellings: sd-133
Contemporary design, premium materials, and sustainable building practices characterize modular kit homes from Stillwater Dwellings. They are fabricated with techniques that minimize construction waste, plus their insulation, tight seal, and high-efficiency space- and water-heating systems keep down energy consumption and costs. Indeed, the total cost of these prefab homes (which includes architect’s fees, structural engineering fees, foundation design, permit coordination, Stillwater components, builder costs, and interior finishes) cost 20 to 40 percent less than custom, architect-designed, site-built homes.
Finished projects average $425 to $600 per square foot. Get pricing info here.
This hybrid wood cabin and garden home is the perfect weekend getaway or home office. It houses four rooms within 174 square feet, including a foyer beyond the double doors and a study area with sleek floor-to-ceiling windows that let the sun stream in. Two can build the kit home within a day.
Available at Amazon for $8,560.
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Deltec Homes: 360° Collection
The circular layout plans of Deltec's 360° Collection of prefabricated kit homes result in distinctive, adaptable, and durable living structures. (Fun fact: The round design features no load-bearing walls, so the floor plan is completely custom.) These unique buildings are shipped in pieces, and their panelized construction system particularly suits first-time homeowner-builders.
Finished projects average $200 to $275 per square foot. Get pricing info here.
This versatile wood bungalow with a built-in covered patio makes an ideal guest home, lake house, or primary home for minimalists. The loft offers 240 square feet for sleeping and otherwise relaxing, and the generous 540 square feet on the ground floor can be creatively configured any way you choose; fit in a living room, two bedrooms rooms, and a small kitchen and bathroom, or three large rooms. Budget a week for two people to assemble it.
Available on Amazon for $32,990.
According to the company, 85 percent of the homes purchased from Shelter-Kit are built by people who have no prior experience. Standard styles are available, but you can also customize your own design with appealing options like porches and cathedral ceilings.
Kit homes average about $30 per square foot. Get pricing info here.
Allwood: Arlanda XL
The clean lines created by the vertical wood paneling, full-length windows, and flat roof of this tiny kit studio lend it a contemporary look that’s right at home in urban settings. The light-filled 227-square-foot dwelling is a natural choice for a home office or workshop, but add in an optional wall and plumbing, and you can allocate 44 square feet as a bedroom or bathroom. The kit can be built by two people in a single day.
Available on Amazon for $9,900.
Bungalow in a Box: 16'x24' Madison Loft Bungalow
Each Bungalow in a Box from Montsweag Brook Corporation is essentially a super-efficient kit for a weathertight structural shell that's custom-designed with the homeowner in mind. Plus, the pre-fabricated components are so easy to assemble, that completion is possible within a matter of days rather than one to two weeks of conventional construction! Sizes and styles range from the 12-by-16-foot guest house (pictured) to the 32-by-36-foot barn event space.
Kit homes with finished exteriors start at about $109 to $142 per square foot; the 16-foot-by-24-foot small house starts around $45,000. Get pricing info here.
Allwood: Estelle 5
Divided by an interior wall into two living areas, this space-efficient catalog home is ideal for a pair of roommates. One person can occupy the 106-square-foot main room and another can take the smaller 51-square-foot room. Two separate entryways and six-foot-nine-inch walls guarantee accessibility, privacy, and comfort for both residents. The home sits on wooden joists, and two adults can build it within a day.
Available on Amazon for $6,363.74.
Summerwood’s customizable kit homes are available either pre-cut to save money for handy do-it-yourselfers looking to start more or less from scratch or pre-assembled to save time during the quick and easy installation. Cabins come standard with lovely features like red cedar siding and plenty of door and window options are available a la carte. Buyers can even visualize their own creations at the Summerwood Custom Design Center.
Cabin kits start at about $117 per square foot for pre-cut designs and $137 per square foot for pre-assembled of the same design; the 10-foot-by-10-foot Nomad starts at $18,395 and $21,295, respectively. Get pricing info here.
Live in a hot climate? Retreat on balmy days under the extended roof of this shady wooden cabin, which also affords an ample patio for entertaining guests. The 113-square-foot interior can be used as a weekend home, home office, yoga studio—you name it! Buy the kit and enlist a crafty partner to build it in just one day.
Available on Amazon for $5,350.
EZ Log Structures: Florida
EZ Log Structures offers some of the best value in build-it-yourself kits for cabins and one- or two-story homes. The interlocking pieces are great for even novice DIYers. Once assembled, the smooth milled logs are ready for a coat of clear wood preservative followed by a penetrating sealer stain or paint in a color of your choice.
Kit homes start around $29 per square foot; this 12-foot-by-18-foot Florida style is available for $5,523. Get pricing info here.
Jamaica Cottage Shop: Vermont Cottage
If you want to take your tiny home on the road, consider this timber-frame cottage that sits atop hemlock wood skids, allowing you to build it on a trailer with wheels for mobility. Spanning 320 square feet, including a covered porch, a sizable ground floor, and a sleeping loft beneath a weather-resistant corrugated roof, it offers cozy comfort for portable living. Two can construct it within a week using the color-coded materials that correspond to the instructions.
Available on Amazon for $16,047.
Q Haus Cliff
This ready-to-build modern residence boasts wall-to-wall windows that let in ample light and a series of rectangular arches that lend drama and privacy. At 774 square feet, the posh pad is outfitted with an open kitchen and dining room, up to three bedrooms and two baths, and a sauna that leads to a terrace. Whether you use it as a primary home or a weekend escape, the $115,000 kit home can be built by two people within a few days.
Available on Amazon for $115,000.
For a fun Old West feeling, this trailblazing tiny mail-order home takes its cue from the Conestoga wagon of the pioneers. Accessible by stairs, the 117-square-foot solid wood home with decorative wheels contains a cooking nook, living space for lounging or dining, and exterior flourishes such as window boxes, doors that double as windows, and an elegant arched roof.
The kit home costs $7,790 on Amazon; two adults can build it within a day.
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