Could We Build a Kit Home?


Tour Of Deltec Kit Home Factory

The Small Home, Big Decisions series follows Jennifer and her husband, Tyler, as they build a self-reliant homestead on a piece of country property in northeastern Kansas. The series will delve into questions that arise during their building process and the decisions they make along the way. The posts are a work in progress, written as their home-building adventure unfolds.

After MOTHER EARTH NEWS ran an article on selecting a DIY kit home, I have been intrigued by the idea. Many of the homes are energy-efficient— which is important to Tyler and me — and come in a range of size options. We plan to be as involved in the building process as we can be, and a kit home seemed like it would be a good fit for our limited construction skills. (Tyler likes to say that we know just enough to muck up a job. I have a bit more confidence.) The structure of a kit home goes up quickly, there is little waste at the construction site, and it would allow for us to customize our home without going, well, totally off the wall.

We looked through several options, and decided that if we were to build a kit home, we would want a Deltec model. Deltec recently released their Renew Collection, which focuses on reasonably sized, net-zero energy designs. As with all Deltec designs, you can choose between 2-by-6-foot or 2-by-8-foot studs to create a super-energy-efficient structure. The idea sounded like a dream come true: We could help build our own home without having to tackle the entire project totally from scratch, and end up with a great home that met our ideal home requirements. The basic process is fairly simple: We would map out our home plan with the company, and then they would build the wall frames in sections (with the windows intact). Next, the pre-built walls and the roof pieces would be sent to us via semis, and we would work with a local Deltec contractor for about a week to put the frame of the house up. So, we did what any couple planning to build a home would do. We combined our honeymoon earlier this year with a trip to the Deltec headquarters to check out the company and our options firsthand.

Deltec Wall Frame With Window Installed 

We met with designers, talked with several members of the company, and left with an all-around positive impression. The company really talks the talk when it comes to sustainability — and that was a huge deal to us. When we came home, we visited a locally built Deltec round home, and were incredibly impressed with the energy-efficiency and “feel” of the home. Being inside the house feels nothing like being inside a kit home — it has the look and feel of a standard stick structure. We were pretty much sold, and made plans to start finalizing which Deltec kit home would become ours. After several more meetings, talking with our bank, and hours of pouring over various floorplans, we ended up deciding that this wasn't the right fit for us.

1/13/2015 5:06:47 PM

How funny...I just received my catalogs in the mail from Deltec. I really love the idea of a Deltec home in Wyoming where the wind is atrocious. BUT...I'm like you. I'll have to truck it across the country and I want a basement too. Sheesh...

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