Sears Houses In the U.S.
Historic homes that were sold as kits, and shipped to homeowners by rail.
We are a group of researchers who look for Sears houses around the United States. We maintain the National Database of Sears Houses in the U.S., where we add new finds, almost daily. Our goal is always to authenticate these houses through mortgage and deed research, or other primary sources, but, when that is not possible, we apply a careful, team approach to analyzing each house that goes on our national list.
What is a Sears kit house?
In short, it's a house whose blueprints and building supplies were ordered from a specialty Sears catalog, and all of these supplies were shipped, by rail (primarily), to the homeowner (who either chose to build the house himself, or use a contractor to arrange the construction). One of the most fascinating parts of the story, is that the framing lumber was (in most cases) pre-cut and labeled, allowing the homebuilder to follow an instruction booklet to help in the organized construction process. Included in the overall purchase, were all elements needed for the house, from lumber to roofing; wiring and plumbing; windows and door knobs, and hinges and nails and screws; staircases and all of their parts, pre-mitered; flooring, bath tubs and sinks and faucets; kitchen cabinets and ironing boards; window screens, window shades, and light fixtures. For some of these items, there were options (type of wiring, heating, plumbing fixtures, for example, or upgrades for flooring and trim wood), and any masonry items were purchased through Sears, but obtained through a local supplier, rather than being shipped by Sears.
What is NOT a Sears kit house?
Sears kit houses were built from 1908-1942 (see this blog post for substantiation of the 1942 date, and this follow up article), and the models offered by Sears followed the design trends of those decades. Not every house in a community of 1920s-era houses, is a Sears house, for example... far, far from it, in fact, as only about 2% of houses built in the kit era, were built with kits from Sears. A Sears house is:
not a Pre-fab house
not a steel panel house (those are usually Lustron houses)
not every Craftsman, bungalow, or Dutch Colonial style house you come across (though Sears did offer many Craftsman, bungalow, English cottage, Dutch Colonial, and Colonial style houses... as did every other house company)
not a house built after 1942 (or before 1908)
not the only brand of kit house that existed (other companies include Gordon-Van Tine, Aladdin Homes, Bennett Homes, Wardway homes, and others)
If My House Is Not A Kit, Where Did It Come From?
The answer to this question can be found on this Sears House Seeker blog post. Scroll down to the section with that title, to learn more about plans-only companies.
Finding Out More
To learn more about what houses we have found, where to learn more about Sears houses, how to find our blogs, and how to contact us for interviews or presentations, please follow the links available at the top of the page:
The National List • Authenticating • Information & Education