Previously, we presented a brief overview into the history of kit homes in North America, whilst last week we told the story of several “probable” kit homes in Grosse Pointe and offered a brief introduction on how to go about identifying a kit home.
This week, in this final part of our kit home series, we delve a little further into two further “probable” kit homes in the Grosse Pointes. We use the word “probable” because these homes have yet to be authenticated. Given that none of the traditional kit house companies are still in business, and because many of the kit home records were either lost or destroyed it can be extremely difficult to authenticate these homes.
During the height of kit home popularity the price of a kit home varied dramatically. The costs were dependent on the manufacturer, the architectural style and size of the home, the choice of floor plan, plus any upgrades the purchaser wanted to include such as advanced technology – updated pluming and heating systems for instance. Prices, in 1920, were in the vicinity of $1,500 – $3,000 (around $21,000 – $41,000 today), however the land, brick, concrete, and/or masonry were not included in the price, neither was construction. It is believed, based on some excellent research by Andrew & Wendy Mutch, via their blog ‘Kit House Hunters’, the final cost of the home, when completed could escalate to between 2-3 times the list price in the catalogue. So a home listed for $1500 in a catalogue could actually cost $3000 – $4500 when complete.
It is believed ‘much of the profit in the kit home business came from the mortgage financing that accompanied the sale, and not the materials or the house itself’. Source antiquehomestyle.com. It should also be noted, that several kit home companies either went out of business or had to be drastically restructured as a result of the mortgage packages (they had offered to their customers) having a detrimental effect on the company.