Types of kit homes
Most kit homes fall into one of four main categories:
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.
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.
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 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.