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HomeBarndominiumThe Interesting History of Barndominium kits in America

The Interesting History of Barndominium kits in America

How Barndominium Kits Evolved from Mail Order Home Kits of the Early 1950’s

Long before browsing Pinterest boards overflowing with rustic barndominium-inspired kit ideas, Americans ordered complete mail-order homes from magazine catalogs, Sears kit houses were complete home packages that owners could order from the Sears catalog and have shipped by rail. The kits included all necessary materials like pre-cut and labeled lumber, roofing, windows, doors, hardware, flooring, kitchenware, lighting, and plumbing supplies. An instruction booklet helped guide assembly by numbering all the pre-mitered wood framing parts so builders could construct homes efficiently. Sears offered different finish and component options to choose from based on budget. Essentially the innovative all-in-one kits enabled buyers to build quality homes themselves straight from the Sears catalog.

the most popular Sears Modern Home kits were sold from 1908 through about 1942 with the concept dating clear back to the late 1800s according to archival records. Industry innovator Sears Modern Home program led the industry in pre-engineered housing kits After around 1916, The Sears & Roebuck company Started pre-cutting the lumber for framing, as well as ink stamping each board with a letter/number combo, The letter in the letter/number combo Shows the homebuilder what dimension lumber the piece is as well as other helpful information in some cases (2 X 4, 4 X 6, etc.) This was updated in 1916 to help the homebuilder follow the instructions the company had laid out for an easier, Quicker, and more straightforward method of constructing the home kit compared to previous years with little to no instructions and no informative lumber stamping to speak of. 

What Was included in Sears home kits?

The Quality of material in their kits was top of the line for the day. Sears did not skimp on the materials in the least bit, The kits included absolutely everything you could possibly need to build out your entire kit to a finished product. Things that aren’t even included by companies today were standard and included in most kits of the day items such as bathtubs, windows, shingles, faucets, lighting fixtures, and even trim and molding pieces were included. The only aspects of a build that Sears did not include in their kits, were masonry products (like plaster and brick and bags of concrete, and stone veneer, but Sears was. so on top of their game, They had access to local suppliers across the country that they would send to you for that. This whole process was a Game changer for families of the day, it allowed the average family to realize the American Dream for themselves and build it with their very own sweat and elbow grease. There was nothing more American at the time than having your dream home delivered for an affordable price straight to the family’s doorstep and gathering up family members and friends as a collective community project to piece it together and finish the kit out into a beautiful home.

  Today’s Barndominium kit suppliers like BuildMax owe a ton of historic credit largely to those pioneers who changed the housing landscapes forever with their selection of finely crafted mail-order Home kits. has taken this age-old concept and updated it to modern-day building specifications & industry standards as well as overhauling the entire logistics process.

Sears Home Kit Shipping and Logistics

Capitalizing on the grand railroad system of the American West Sears Modern Home kits were strapped down and shipped by train, in several box-car loads, The Loads would be shipped to the nearest Depot and await the homebuilder to take possession of the materials from there. homeowners found a way to haul the materials to their lot. Historians and researchers know of authenticated Sears houses that were built miles and miles from the location of the depot, and they know that the family hauled the kit supplies to their lot. Later in the years Sears also utilized the start of the trucking industry to ship their kits.

Sears marketed a spectrum of build-it-yourself True D.I.Y home packages partitioned intelligently for reassembly on newly acquired rural lands from sea to shining sea. This afforded pioneers and Upstart townships a truly inexpensive construction method and way of transporting home kits with ease. Offerings spanned from bare-bone basic homes of the era up to high-end ritzy Victorian manors or simple sensible bungalows All packaged and shipped, only needing a crew of strong men to assemble the framing, some in the early days even built their homes solo without the help of a crew & obviously over the course of some serious time.

Modern Adoption of an Old Concept

BuildMax advances the mail order kit concept further into the future modernizing the concept and aiming more for today’s market. leveraging precision computer modeling and engineered components flat-packing durable steel barndominium frameworks and leading a contemporary renaissance in Barndominium construction across America in the sameway Sears had done many years ago. Instead of railcars we now utilize flatbed trucks for a reliable transportation method,  packages from our Kansas factory will ship directly facilitating custom Barndominium kits with enhanced resilient integrity Sears’ lumber limitations could never match, and shipped nationwide. Yet the creative spirit in delivering quality Barndominium kit homes still endures stronger than ever, fulfilling far more families with Barndominiums than ever before in modern history.

Both Sears originals and today’s tailored steel barndominium Homes celebrate rural resourcefulness building homes faster through prefab ingenuity and determined elbow grease just like the good ole days. It’s pioneering mobility empowering hardworking families to realize their very own American dream through Buildmax’s Floor Plan & and kit catalog with many designs and floorplans to choose from.

Aaron Scott
Aaron Scott
Aaron Scott is a freelance writer and researcher that has written hundreds of articles for online companies in the area of construction, design, finance and automotive. He's a Southern boy that enjoys creek fishing, hunting and camping. He's rarely seen without his trusted beagle hound "Scooter"
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We are super excited with results and service. Tony offered really helpful suggestions. Our dream build was pretty complicated but he and his designer were able to meet our needs.

James B

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