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How Sears Kit Homes changed housing

 
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 75169334
United States
10/20/2018 08:15 PM
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How Sears Kit Homes changed housing
In an era before commercial aviation and long-haul trucking, Sears, Roebuck & Co. set up an operation that would package and ship more than 400 different types of homes and buildings to anybody who had the cash and access to a catalog. From 1908 to 1940, Chicago-based Sears sold between 70,000 to 75,000 homes—”from Craftsman to Cape Cods, they offered a custom home at budgets and sizes that could accommodate any size family,” according to Popular Mechanics—which were sent via train car and set up as far afield as Florida, California, and even Alaska.

As a company-produced history from 1918 noted, “the customer must be satisfied for a lifetime for every house we sell is a standing advertisement for Sears, Roebuck and Company.”

To fully appreciate the impact of the Sears kit homes, it’s important to understand the reach of the company’s famous catalog. In 1908, when Sears began selling homes by mail, one-fifth of the country subscribed, according to a 99 Percent Invisible podcast about the program. Americans anywhere could flip through the four-pound, 1,400-page Bible of consumerism, thumb through more than 100,000 items, and have any one of them delivered to their door.

Sears gave consumers what they wanted, with a quality guarantee and cross-country shipping. The Modern Homes program, as the home kit division was called, simply took that philosophy to its conclusion, with the hope that anyone building a brand-new Sears house would furnish it with brand-new Sears goods.

[link to www.curbed.com (secure)]

<50%
SoberLife

User ID: 74354534
United States
10/20/2018 11:54 PM

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Re: How Sears Kit Homes changed housing
Could you imagine them trying that today?

You can't build your own house any more.

Need to get a general contractor to pull the permits, need several licensed trades people to perform their portion of work, who's prices are marked up by the general contractor. Need surveys, inspections, insurance, file the deed with the title office, impact fees, taxes, taxes, taxes.

It's become an intentional maze of confusion. When I purchased my home, I sat with a lawyer as a 10 inch think stack of papers sat in front of me. I asked him if anyone has ever read all the paperwork before signing. He told me a couple people have tried but gave up after a few hours. That is INSANE.

The catalogs that show mail order homes are relics of a freedom we lost long ago.

Last Edited by SoberLife on 10/20/2018 11:55 PM
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 80639107
07/21/2021 01:30 PM
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Re: How Sears Kit Homes changed housing
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