Types of kit homes

Most kit homes fall into one of four main cat­e­gories:

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Log homes

Log homes are made of hand­crafted logs or fac­tory-milled logs that can ex­pand and con­tract due to changes in hu­mid­ity and tem­per­a­ture, so it’s im­por­tant to seal the logs prop­erly to­gether. Log homes can also shrink af­ter be­ing built, so keep this in mind and plan ahead. Log kits in­clude in­te­rior fix­tures.

Tim­ber-frame homes

Also known as post-and-beam homes, tim­ber-frame homes have no in­te­rior struc­tural walls, so they of­fer flex­i­bil­ity when de­sign­ing the in­te­rior lay­out. They also pro­vide large wall space for win­dows, which al­lows for pas­sive so­lar de­sign. Tim­ber-frame homes fac­ing south with in­su­lated roof and wall pan­els are en­ergy-ef­fi­cient.

Dome homes

They’re flex­i­ble, spa­cious, en­ergy-ef­fi­cient and made of tri­an­gu­lar fi­bre­glass pan­els that can with­stand se­vere weather con­di­tions. Dome homes are eas­ier to build as cut­ting the pieces in the same shape, size and an­gle is done re­peat­edly. They can also be built quickly, as you can erect the shell and in­stall the win­dows and doors in one day.

Pan­elised homes

Pan­elised homes can have an open panel (e.g. a frame with ex­te­rior sheath­ing and a non-in­su­lated/un­fin­ished in­te­rior) or a closed panel (e.g. a frame with a fin­ished in­te­rior or a struc­tural in­su­lated panel (SIP)). Us­ing SIPS for the floors, walls and roof help cre­ate an en­ergy-ef­fi­cient home. Pan­elised kits can come with roof trusses and wall sec­tions and have flex­i­ble floor plans.

Cre­ate a checklist

Cre­at­ing a checklist will help you to stay or­gan­ised from the start and en­sure that you ob­tain the right knowl­edge, skills, bud­get and peo­ple you need prior to build­ing your kit home.

Here’s what to put on your checklist:

• Do your re­search – If you have no ex­pe­ri­ence in build­ing homes, then do some re­search on the process of build­ing a kit home and on lo­cal build­ing codes. Know how long it might take to build your kit home, e.g. large kit homes take around 8-12 months to com­plete. Choose a kit home com­pany with a good rep­u­ta­tion and good cus­tomer re­views.

• Take a course – If you’re think­ing of build­ing your kit home your­self, then take an owner-builder course. It’s short, cheap and will pre­pare you for build­ing your own kit home.

• Cre­ate a bud­get – In­clude the main costs and ad­di­tional costs, in­clud­ing up­grades dur­ing the build­ing process. Make a bud­get for what it is you want and stick to it.

• Speak with a lender – If you’ll be bor­row­ing money for your kit home, get a loan from a small bank, as they’re more open to lend­ing for non-conventional homes. Ex­pect to pay a big­ger de­posit than for a conventional home. The lender may also choose who gets to build the home (e.g. you or a con­trac­tor), so that they get a good-qual­ity prod­uct from the deal.

• Find the right builder – If you want to hire a builder, read peo­ple’s re­views of home builders and look at their fin­ished work be­fore choos­ing one. Also look for a builder who can gather a team of good trades­peo­ple that they can man­age in or­der to com­plete the project on time and within bud­get. You can also ask the kit home com­pany or their lo­cal dealer if they know of a good con­trac­tor who can build your home.

• Get the build­ing site ready – You’ll need to source and buy land, then com­plete the foun­da­tion be­fore the kit home ar­rives. En­sure there’s space to ac­com­mo­date the truck and have your work crew ready to go when the ma­te­ri­als ar­rive.

• Be or­gan­ised – Stack the ma­te­ri­als neatly to­gether and some­where safe from the weather. Read the man­ual, fol­low the steps in or­der and have some­one be in charge of the man­ual through­out the build­ing process.

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