What is a kit house?
A kit house is pre-designed and pre-fabricated, usually bought to site flat-packed. Kit houses have become increasingly popular with self-builders, perhaps after the famous ‘Grand Designs’ episode with the German ‘Huf Haus‘. There are now many kit house companies in the UK.
What are self build kit houses made of?
Most commonly they are constructed in timber frame, which has the clear advantages of being lightweight, strong and durable, making it easy to transport and an effective ‘skeleton’ for a robust, long-lasting home.
Another advantage of timber frame construction is the flexibility it allows in terms of design; even with a fully pre-designed kit house, there should some opportunities for small adaptions.
Although they are less common, there are some companies that offer alternative construction methods such as brick and block kit homes and SIPs kit houses (structurally insulated panels).
Advantages of Kit Homes
- It’s a simple, quick way of building your own home.
- The design process is virtually effortless – it’s already been done for you!
- The construction time is usually much faster than traditional (bespoke) buildings.
- The quality of construction is high, being made and checked in a factory environment.
- It’s usually quite modestly priced.
Disadvantages of Kit Homes
- The design/aesthetic of many kit homes can be rather uninspiring.
- Some of the better designed kits, e.g. house kits designed by a ‘named’ architect or some well known German house kits, can be quite expensive!
- There is limited scope for design flexibility and it may be difficult to put your personal stamp on them.
Bespoke pre-fabricated self-builds
If you love the idea of building a kit house in terms of the cost, speed and ease of construction but want something that is tailored to your style and requirements, there is another option, which is working with an architect or designer to build you a bespoke pre-fabricated home.
One of the main reasons people embark on a self-build is to have the opportunity to live in a space that fits their lifestyle and taste perfectly. It’s worthwhile thinking about your house’s re-sale value too. You might find that a beautifully designed, unique home has much more appeal than one which is standardized, off-the-peg.
Below: Designs from some of our architects and architectural designers here on Design for Me. Click on the images to see their full profiles and shortlist them for your project.
Working with an Architect to design your prefab home
Firstly, these decisions about the construction method of your self-build do not have to be made on your own (with the help of Google). It is very common for potential self-builders to start with a brief that involves little more than a budget and a rough idea of how big they want the house to be.
Architects are trained to work with you to help shape your brief and to understand what’s important to you, including where to spend your budget and, more importantly, where to save it! If speed and ease of construction are high up on your list of priorities, your architect can work with you to design a house that is simple and modular to allow for pre-fabrication. If you and your architect decide to go down the pre-fabrication route, it would be a good idea to engage a manufacturer as early as possible in the design process. This way, your architect’s designs won’t fight against their standard details (which could result in rising costs).
Finding the right architect / design professional
Here at Design for Me we specialise in helping homeowners with any home building project (no matter how big or small the budget!) to find the right architect or design professional to work with – and it’s free! Just tell us a bit about your project and we’ll match you with the best professionals for your needs.
Emily Design for Me