Shelter is a basic need, so even in times of economic uncertainty, home ownership remains a high priority. Consumers have a number of alternatives for making home ownership a reality. One alternative is the self-build home kit. A kit is delivered to the construction site in preconstructed segments ready to be joined together.
Why Self Build?
John Rice of Self Build Mentor cites six reasons for self-building: builder availability; opportunities for customizing; better value for the investment; innovative building products; the eco-friendly, sustainable nature of many kit homes; and a feeling of accomplishment. Speed of construction is another factor that makes building with a kit an attractive option.
Types of House Kits
House kits come in a variety of types and architectural styles. The most common, according to MotherEarthNews.com, are steel frame, timber frame, log, dome and panel homes. Within each category are a number of different styles, which gives the prospective home builder a wide variety of choices.
Timber Frame and Post-and-Beam
Timber frame and post-and-beam are both examples of load and support construction. Support posts are erected and topped with horizontal beams, then joined to form a strong, durable framework. This allows interior walls to be built without bearing weight from the exterior frame. Most kits for timber frame or post-and-beam homes supply the materials necessary for construction of the shell; some packages contain components for the completion of the interior.
Log Home Kits
Log home kits include support timbers and logs, as well as the logs that will make up the remainder of the shell. Some come with the exterior walls already joined into panels. With a log home, there is no need for drywall on the inside of the frame, because the logs provide both the interior and exterior surfaces of the home's shell.
Another style of home that lends itself well to building from a kit is the geodesic dome. Advocates of this technique claim that domes are spacious, energy efficient, strong and easy to build. They are eco-friendly as well as economical, and can be expanded by constructing and connecting additional domes.
Steel Frame and Panel Homes
Steel-frame kits include steel supports and framing materials, and steel or aluminum wall panels, which are snapped and bolted together.
Panel homes are typically designed like traditional homes, but the walls are preassembled into easy-to-install panels.
Other types of kits, such as timber frame, post-and-beam and log, may also include preassembled panels. Structurally Insulated Panels (SIP) provide a high degree of energy efficiency.
Limitations and Considerations
Although building with a kit is more economical than traditional methods, the cost of a home kit typically includes the shell of the home only; the builder must also cover the cost of the land, foundation and interior finishing. And while most house kits can be completed relatively quickly, the self-builder would be wise to arrange for volunteer or hired assistance. Special equipment may be needed for heavy logs or timbers. Even with these considerations in mind, however, the home kit gives consumers viable options for cutting costs, customizing and creating an eco-friendly, energy-saving home.