A Guide to DIY Kit Homes

Today’s kit homes are energy-efficient, affordable and offer something for everyone, whether big or small. They can unlock the door to your dream home. Discover your kit house options.

| December 2012/January 2013

You can see it in your mind’s eye: that perfect house, a snug cabin nestled in the woods alongside a pond shimmering in the sun’s slanting rays. You’ve held that image in your head since you were a teenager, and now you’re finally ready to build it.

You’d love to build it all by yourself, but you’re not sure you have the necessary skills. Or perhaps you know that you have the skills, but the time and effort of finding all of the materials seems daunting.

Maybe a kit house is the answer. Kit houses can be grand or tiny, sophisticated or rustic, traditional or ultra-modern. Kit homes can offer efficiency in construction as well as in energy use after the house has been built, and many kit home companies offer state-of-the-art green and renewable energy options. In short, if you’d like to build an affordable custom home (or cabin), a kit house may be a solution.

One of your first decisions will be how big to build. Census statistics show that the average home size in the United States has grown from 1,600 square feet in 1975 to more than 2,200 square feet in 2005, notes Steve Linton, president of Deltec Homes. No one but you can say what size home is right for your family, but maybe you don’t need a formal dining room or that “bonus” room.

Is there a way to calculate how much your dream house will cost? The website B4UBuild.com, which answers questions about home construction, says a new house “will probably cost $80 to $200 per square foot.” Thus, a 1,500-square-foot house, with no sweat equity from you, could cost $120,000 — or $300,000. 

A DIY home kit can simplify a lot of your building decisions. Check out our DIY Kit Homes for Every Style, Size and Budget chart for some companies providing house kits. Some kits, such as Shelter-Kit’s owner-built homes, are designed for the beginning do-it-yourselfer. Other companies offer kits for more experienced builders, often with panelized construction (in which walls are built in a factory, then shipped to the homesite to be installed).

7/7/2016 10:12:56 AM

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7/8/2015 8:05:54 AM

Robin, Thanks for this article. My wife & I want to build our 600sqft solar home completely out of pocket by using a DIY panelized construction system. We'll build the panels over time and store them in a self-storage unit until all the components are finished. Then we'll have a home assembly party to simply connect all the panels into a dried-in shell. The key for us is to avoid mortgage debt and the debt slavery that results. Build your own kit and get debt free.

7/2/2014 3:40:08 AM

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