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Home Building Kits - an Experts Evaluation of Prefab, SIPS, Log, Timber Frame

Updated on December 22, 2014

What You Should Know About Home Building Kits - Before You Buy!

Hi, I'm CP and my goal is to provide you with more than a basic understanding of Home Building Kits, so that you'll be able to decipher a good one, from one that's not so good... A Quality Home Building Kit that you're not going to pay too much for!

Prefab Home Building Kits

Does it make $ense to purchase a Kit Home?

Let me start by saying, purchasing a Prefab Home Building Kit can be a great choice, whether you plan to build it yourself, have it built for you or somewhere in between. As an Owner/Builder you can save what a General Contractor would charge you, and that can be big bucks! Basically, the more you do, the more you save! But, you don't have to lift a hammer unless you want to.

No matter which option you choose, a well designed House Kit can really make the difference between a good building experience and a bad one. Today, there are almost too many options, so we need a way to weed them out. And, that's what I plan to show you, is how to weed them out!

In the home building industry, spending more doesn't necessarily mean you're getting more! I've seen companies that have nothing special to offer. They draft a set of build plans and then drop a pile of material at your site. One telltale sign that a company has less to offer, is one that provides lots of stuff, lists of stuff. It makes it look like your getting a lot for your money. When the fact is, what are you going to do with all this stuff when it's dropped at your site? And don't forget, they're making money on all that stuff, not to mention double handling! Some companies have an OK product, but they add that list of stuff, making it difficult to compare costs to other similar kit homes. Some use gimmicks while others have a legitimate quality product.

A big advantage when purchasing a house kit is that, you can get a tasteful home that's perfect for your lifestyle and your pocketbook. These days, with the internet, finding and shipping a home kit to you is easier than ever... But, to make an intelligent decision about home packages, understanding the pros and cons is a must!

SIP Panel Kit Homes

- are constructed using Super Insulated foam core Building Panels (Stresskin Panels or SIPS = Structural Insulated Panels), which are "State of the Art". Similar to how walk-in freezers are made, but stronger.

These homes need to be assembled correctly. Which is not to say, someone not familiar couldn't learn. Finding experienced panel crews locally is not always an easy task. However, more and more carpenters are becoming familiar with this type of construction and generally those without experience will be willing to take on your project.

Interior & exterior finish is pretty straight forward. Ultimately, Panel Homes look like a Conventional Stick-Built Home. But, can be assembled quicker, are much more comfortable to live in because they are so tightly constructed and will save you a bundle in energy bills.

If you would like to check out a company that uses probably the best SIP Panels and has a unique system for building with awesome kit prices! Click here

Log Home Building Kits

- which most are familiar with, obviously come in many log styles and sizes. Some of them are just plain beautiful! Many who have lived in a Log Home have told me personally, "there's just too much wood!" There's not much that can be done to change the look? But, I've seen a few that I don't think I'd get tired of!

Many Log Home Building Kits can actually be assembled by a novice. Some require on site cutting which can create problems for those who are not comfortable around woodworking tools. Some are so complex, that they need to be assembled by an experienced crew.

The roof systems on Log Cabin Homes vary from conventional framing to SIP's, but most I've seen can be a challenge even for those who are "carpenters". Interior finish can be challenging as well, especially with round log walls. Other issues to be aware of are wiring, log shrinkage & settling, while Log Cabin maintenance is usually high. (log exterior walls)

Wood is an OK insulator, so obviously, the bigger the log, the higher R-value. In general, Log Home Building Kits are not considered to be Efficient Home Energy Savers.

Modular or Panelized Home Kits

- are generally 2x6 construction, built complete or in sections. Their claim to fame is that they are built in a controlled environment. The fact is that most Prefab House Kits are! Depending upon the company, they can also achieve higher production levels, theoretically passing those cost savings on to you. Overall, you should be getting a higher Quality Stick-Built Home because they're fabricated using jigs in a factory.

Timber Frame or Post & Beam Home Kits

- consisting of wood posts connected to wood beams forming the skeleton of the structure. (similar to the way skyscrapers are built)

The premier method of connecting the timbers is with Wood Pegged Joinery. You've seen barns, hundreds of years old, with no roof and still standing. Other methods of connection are not as mysterious, such as spiking, screwing or bolting the timbers together between metal plates.

As for walls and roof, there are basically two options. One is 2x walls built between or on the outside of the timbers. The other, Stresskin Panels (SIPS) which can be applied to the exterior of the frame, leaving the frame fully exposed inside. Applying SIP Panels to a Timber Frame is extremely simple and in my estimation, is the only way to go! However, this option will be limited to the framing system of the individual Kit Home company.

Open Concept Living is a natural in Timber Frame or Post & Beam Homes. Interior partitions are not necessary for structural integrity. Generally they are open to the peak of the roof. Consequently, a smaller home can be built because they feel larger.

Timber Frame & SIP Panel House Kit - The easiest Home Building Kit to assemble!

You may be thinking "I can't afford a Post & Beam Home". I like to think of the glass as being 1/2 full and where there's a will, there's a way! Check out the video below, some amazing things have been done to bring down the cost of building Timber Frame structures. Here's some examples of Timber Frame Home & Barn Designs with Pricing.

Metal Home Building Kit
Metal Home Building Kit

Metal Home Building Kits

- To tell you the truth, I don't have an affinity for Steel Home Building Kits... Especially when the entire exterior is finished in metal. Roofing, siding, windows and trim.

The structural framing is similar to a Timber Frame, but substituting Metal Beams for the Wood Timbers. They are well suited for commercial buildings because they can clear span longer distances without trusses. They will generally handle extreme conditions, wind, earthquakes and are a good option for areas that have termite issues. But, as far as speed of construction, they are more difficult to build than a site built conventionally framed structure.

How to Compare Home Building Kit Prices

Most companies offer Predesigned Homes. I recommend beginning the comparison process by choosing a similar design from a number of companies you are interested in. They don't have to be exact, but they should have a similar degree of complexity, number of floors and of similar size.

Kit Home Manufacturers should have a good idea of what their homes cost, finished as well as their Kit Package. Here's where there's some confusion. Generally, companies talk in terms of sq ft cost. But, not everyone calculates square footage in the same way. Probably the fairest way to compare costs would be to use the cubic footage (volume of space) plus the degree of complexity. But no one uses this method, so, the next best way is to multiply the length x width times how many floors there are. (use the exterior dimensions of the building) Floor area = anywhere you can stand up, say 6' headroom.

To level the playing field, you should treat cathedral areas as having a second floor. Because the fact is, that to actually have a second floor in those areas, all you need are some floor joists and flooring. This method will get you much closer to comparing apples to apples. Now, take the cost of the structure (Finished or just the shell) and divide it by the amount of sq ft, and you'll have the cost per sq ft.

At this point you want a ballpark idea of cost to determine whether or not to continue further in considering a particular company. You'll probably never be able to compare exact to the penny prices, so you'll have to rely on your common sense.

Costs vary depending upon your choices. Things like an elaborate fieldstone fireplace, hardwood floors or maybe a $50,000 kitchen etc. If you treat everything as a separate item, a dormer, a deck, a garage, etc., you can add or subtract these items from the manufacturers Kit Home Cost or finished Home Cost.

As an example: One company may provide windows, the other doesn't, just deduct the ballpark window cost. Don't know how much windows cost. Home Depot or Lowes can help! How much for a garage? Ask someone in that field, a carpenter or a builder should be able to give you a pretty accurate ballpark cost. You can also ask the manufacturer. This process may take a little work, but is well worth the effort!

My Choice Would Be a Green Home Building Kit

A Green Home Building Kit That Won't Break the Bank!

My choice is a Timber Frame with Stresskin Panels for the walls and the roof. But, not just any Timber Frame & not just any Panels!... Normally, Timber Frames utilizing Panels, are considered to be a very expensive way to build. But guess what?... That's NOT always the case!

In most instances, a Post & Beam or Timber Frame employing Traditional Joinery would require an experienced crew for assembly, because of the way they are put together. Again, NOT always the case!

Below is a link to a Timber Frame & Panel System that has been optimized for efficiency, not only for production, but also for the assembly! Simplified by a UNIQUE Wood Pegged Joinery System, just two people can actually assemble an entire house, and even with only two, it wouldn't take very long! As far as Home Building is concerned, I think it's the best option out there! It has the best of all worlds. Beautiful, Super-Insulated and really simple to put together... AND it's as Green as it gets!

This is my site! I manufacture Post & Beam Home Building Kits and would like for you to just have a look around. We've spent our time developing a high quality Home Building System. At first glance, many think they can't afford one, but I urge you to take a second look. All in all, when it comes to building a custom home, I am 99% sure, you won't find a better home building value, anywhere! Hope to see you there!

Would You Build-It-Yourself , Hire a Builder or Other?

When You Build your Dream Home

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Cool Forklift Attachment - See this "Bad Boy" in action below

Source

Power or Manual Angle from the Cab

The Chinook Forklift Snowplow Attachment fits any fork truck from 1500 lb to 10,000 lb. (lifting capacity) The "Trip Edge" design is built rugged and runs about 1/2 the cost of a plow on a pick-up.

"Worries of hitting obstacles such as Curb Stones or Manhole Covers, is a fear of the past. The Trip Edge hinges back, while the Plow Blade jumps up over the Obstacle."

Either model is available in 6 ft or 7 ft blade widths, expandable to 8 ft and 9 ft by attaching the optional plow wings. CP says, “When customers are asked how they like their plow, they don’t use the word like; they say - they love it!”

Commercial Quality "Trip Edge" Design with Powder Coat Finish

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    • profile image

      suncoastroofing 4 years ago

      Really good read. I personally like the timber kit myself.

    • profile image

      randallplant 4 years ago

      Interesting! I'm seeing a lot of information on these types of construction - a sign of the economic times

    • profile image

      prefab_homes 5 years ago

      Great lens, thanks!

    • profile image

      neoanderson004 5 years ago

      Timber Frames are in fashion nowadays. They look good and easy to build and carry.

      Timber Frame Company

    • BlueTrane profile image

      BlueTrane 5 years ago

      Great Lens! I've been looking at post and beam, but will look closer into green kits.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 5 years ago from Virginia

      Well done squid builder. Thanks for a great insight into building a "roof over one's head". Hope to see more lenses!

    • profile image

      virgoansun 5 years ago

      Another great lens. Thanks.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 5 years ago

      I really like the way you presented all of the different options available, and then presented your option, without being pushy. Very well done and blessed by a Squid Angel. I would love to see more lenses on this topic.

    • Hirsilinna profile image

      Hirsilinna 5 years ago

      Too many lenses just recycle the Amazon links but this is truly different. You have put some fantastic info together here. Thank you for that.

    • profile image

      bookmarkme 6 years ago

      nice lens, very informative too

    • profile image

      fulltimehockeymom 6 years ago

      that's crazy, I didn't even know kits like this existed

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