A kit home is a kind of building that is assembled on-site (like a traditional wooden frame building) but where all the parts of the structure have been pre-cut at a factory and they've been delivered in packages (usually flat-packs, to save on transport cost).

In most cases, kit homes can be customized as per customer's wish (i.e. the sie of the rooms can be altered, windows can be moved, ...). 
Building with kit homes allows for flexibility while maintaining the cost of building affordable and the entire process not to complex. 

What you can expect from a kit home

A kit home can bring several benefits to your project. The most important are:

  1. Less time used on site.
    A house kit contains all the parts necessary to build the structure of the house. All parts are pre-cut at the factory and the kit comes with detailed assembly instructions.
    Compared to a traditional built (where parts are measured and cut on-site), using a kit shortens (by weeks) the time spent on the construction site for putting together the structure.
  2. Less waste.
    When building with traditional methods, carpenters cut wood beams on-site and they cut what they need when they need it. Consequently, there is no optimization of materials and a lot of wood goes to waste in the form of pieces that are too short to be used in the build.
    Home kits are cut in the factory using an automated saw. The machine knows in advance all the pieces it has to cut and optimizes the work so that there is the minimum possible amount of waste left.
  3. Less skilled workforce.
    Since the thinking is done at the factory, construction workers on-site do not need to be skilled carpenters.
    Putting together the structure is quite easy as the kit comes with IKEA-like detailed instructions.
  4. Sourcing materials and services locally.
    The kit contains most of the parts necessary for getting the building Weathertight. However, to save on transport costs, some materials are not included in the kit and they must be sourced locally (insulation for example).
    This allows buying those components at a better price, thus saving a considerable amount of money.
    Sourcing materials and services locally also allow getting competitive prices on interior finishing works and technical installations.

On the other hand, in order to get all these benefits, you need to invest in planning before you order the kit.

Getting a very clear idea of what you want to build is critical to the success of your project.
This is why we always recommend creating your vision first.

What a kit home is NOT

When it comes to prefabricated wooden buildings, the internet does not paint a very clear picture. 
In fact, there is a lot of confusion online about terminology.

Manufacturers use terms like "modular", "prefab",  "pre-cut" interchangeably and this is plain wrong and misleading.

A kit home is a building that has to be built entirely on-site and it comes in packages of pre-cut material.

Now, the building might have a modular architecture (based on some geometric pattern that repeats itself, like Avrame triangular structure) but this doesn't make it a modular building.

In the prefab industry, a "modular" house is a building that comes on-site in ready-made boxes. The boxes are fully finished (even inside) and they just need to be installed on the ground and connected together.

Needless to say, this form of construction is faster but way more expensive (it saves time and it burns money).

Kit homes are nothing like that. The idea behind building with a kit is to save money.
A kit home will require investing some of your time (either in the building works or in the planning) and it will repay in a more affordable construction process.

Of all the prefabricated techniques, kit homes are the most basic one and the one where you can save the most since you can use your own time in various stages of the building and you can customize a lot of details to your own wish (even finish some parts later if you like).

What to pay attention to

Even if building with a kit it is relatively easy and "forgiving", good thoughtful planning is always necessary.

There are a number of things that go wrong during construction that will cost you time and money and cause painful headaches.

Timing is very important. There are certain things that have to be done in a specific order and following a precise time schedule... otherwise your project might get stuck.

If you are serious about building, you should invest some time in learning what could go wrong and which are the points that need more attention.

To help with that, we developed two guides:

  • the 100 Questions Guide.
    Are you sure you are asking the smart questions?
    Chances are there are things you are not even considering, things which can halt or delay your project (or break your budget) once you realize you did not take them into account.
    In the 100 Questions Guide, we collected over 100 questions you should get an answer to BEFORE you start your project.
    Each question comes with and guidance on who can help you to answer that.
    The guide is a 44 pages PDF and it is a paid product. You can find it here.
  • the Budgeting Guide.
    When you get closer to building, you need to get your numbers straight.
    The Budgeting Guide is a tool that will help you to figure out the total cost of your project.
    It is composed of a professional spreadsheet and a 30 pages PDF guide. The guide expands on the concepts discussed in the 100 Questions Guide and explains how to use the spreadsheet.
    The Budgeting Guide is a paid product and you can find it here.

How can you pull it off

You need to get a very clear idea of how the entire process works.
Once you have a bird's eye view on the process and all its components, you can start making decisions.

The supplier of your kit should be able to help you creating this high-level picture in your head (this is exactly why here at Avrame we have the guides described above).

The process is more or less the same whether you build an A-frame or another kit home. Therefore, the time and money you invest in your education prior to launching the construction project are never wasted.

We stress so much about following a process because we know that things can go out of control really fast if one does not do the homework. We can tell several stories of clients who did not follow the process and ended up aborting the construction.

Typical reasons are:

  • the municipality did not approve the construction while the client already placed the order (bad planning)
  • the bank did not finance the construction while the client already placed the order (bad planning)
  • the client did not allocate enough money to complete the entire house (bad budgeting)
  • the client found out there were costs he did not consider (bad budgeting)
  • the client built foundations that were not suitable for the house (bad execution)  
Here at Avrame, we invested heavily to get a solid process and strive to help our customers to make their journey one step after the other, in the right order.

Kit homes alternatives

There are several alternatives to kit homes. At the end of the story, the decision comes to how much of your time you are willing to invest in the build and how much money you can afford to spend.

Here is a list of options (more expensive on top):

  • traditional on-site building, bricks & mortar
  • traditional on-site building, wooden
  • modular construction
  • prefabricated elements construction
  • prefabricated frames construction
  • pre-cut construction (like Avrame)

NOTE: evaluating all the options above can take a long time. One should get the feeling of what he doesn't want to do and rule out that option from the list at the beginning of the evaluation process.

One alternative no one ever mentions is to buy a house which is already on the market.

As a matter of fact, this is by far the biggest competitor of kit homes.
The reasons are simple:

  • a ready-made house (or apartment) needs no work and no planning
  • you can move in immediately
  • you have fewer risks
  • you don't need permission to build (no architect, no paperwork)
  • the Bank has an easier time to finance an object that already exists
  • you don't need to learn any process or any new skill


On the other hand, you will not get your dream home and you cannot say you built a house for your family.

Conclusions

Kit homes are a great way to build your dream home on a budget.
Building a kit home requires being and remaining in control of the construction process.

You do get to build what you want exactly and you do so at a reasonable price but:

  • you need to do some homework and understand how the entire process works.
  • you might need to learn a few new skills (project management or carpentry for example).
Keep in mind you will need to make several decisions and to account for many details.

The best way to cope with that is to invest time in learning BEFORE you commit to the construction project.