8 Companies That Are Revolutionizing Kit Homes
With seemingly limitless plans, styles, and sizes, kit homes are an intriguing alternative for homebuyers. Weve rounded up eight innovative companies whose products range from disaster relief housing to assemble-your-own studios.
The concept of the kit home is as old as Abraham Lincoln and his log cabin, and as quintessentially American. And its no wonder: the DIY kit home is a standardized but customizable item that combines prefabricated parts, affordability, and ease of production with the opportunity for consumer individuality. With vast advances in technology and style, however, todays prefabricated DIY homes are far from the famed birthplace of Honest Abe. Although the log cabin model remains a popular standard, contemporary kit homes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are more affordable, customizable, and efficient.
kitHAUS prides itself on its stylish, modern prefabs that are built on-site by a team of company employees. Their patented aluminum system takes only a few days to construct, and the homes boast superior energy efficiency, owing to insulated floors, walls, and ceilings as well as glazed doors and windows.
Generally made from either treated wood or steel, kit homes are shipped unassembled to consumers in measured, cut, and numbered pieces, and can take anywhere from several hours to a few weeks to construct with a small crew. Best of all, most kit home companies offer state-of-the-art green and renewable energy options.
Geodesic domes were first popularized by R. Buckminster Fuller in the mid-twentieth century, but the extremely strong and stable structures have since been developed into sustainable, wind-resistant models. Oregon Dome produces wind and hurricane resistant geodesic dome kits in thousands of plans, sizes, and shapes. Each can easily be built by the customers themselves, no special equipment necessary.
The LV Series homes by Chilean-American designer Rocio Romero are simple, modern, and environmentally conscious. These homes are meant to connect their owners to the outdoors through steel load-bearing posts that create large openings for glass windows. Specific designs can be tailored to the location and lifestyle of the customers. Although flat-packed and easily shipped, the LV series requires a contractor for construction.
Designed for the homeless and displaced, InterShelter domes are frameless structures made of high-tech aerospace composite material, providing strength and durability while allowing the structures to be easily disassembled and relocated. The materials for these domes can fit in the back of a truck, and are easily assembled in under four hours by two people. Once assembled, the structures are watertight, hurricane proof, and earthquake proof. They can even be combined into multi-structures, providing almost limitless possibilities as to size and design.
The owners of Bungalow in a Box, a small company based in Maine, use a unique combination of materials and methods for each customized structure. Relying on traditional framing techniques, the company prefabricates and ships unfinished timber for studios, bungalows, and other structures in various sizes, leaving the customer to add interior finishes and adapt the home to suit their needs.
Shelter-Kit provides a range of structures, including cabins, barns, garages, and workshops. The New Hampshire-based company produces custom kits in a range of styles and sizes, and 85% of their kits are assembled by clients with no previous building experience. New small homes or second units are customized to meet the needs of individual customers, who can browse the companys website to view floor plans, images, and final product ideas. Customers can even send over a draft floor plan of their own design.
While sustainability, ease of construction, and affordability are priorities for most kit home companies, not all are as concerned with aesthetics. Stillwater Dwellings, which has participated in both the 2013 and 2014 Dwell on Design exhibitions, puts a distinct emphasis on natural lighting, intelligent floor plans, and high-quality craftsmanship to ensure innovative, modern designs.
Repurposed shipping containers serve as the primary materials for the houses and working spaces designed by ShelterKraft. The companys designs focus primarily on disaster relief projects, drawing from existing steel frames and skins in order to reduce the use of new materials. Their buildings range from small cargo cottages of 160-square-feet to 700-square-foot warehouses for industrial facilities. Alhough they come with electric power, heat and plumbing, they generally require a pre-existing concrete foundation and a local contractor to ensure a smooth, safe installation.
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