October 1, 2006

My Great Grandfather Bought A MailOrder House

During this process of buying a 'prebuilt' manufactured house, I suddenly realized that my great grandfather also bought a 'kit' house!
In 1918, he purchased a house from the Sears Modern Homes catalog.
Many wonderful childhood memories are centered around that same house. My grandmother stayed in that home until a large prairie fire in 1991 destroyed all buildings in the area.
I decided it would be fun to learn a bit more about the Sears houses.
If you are interested also, check out these two sites:
Two things that I found most interesting were the 'innovative' improvements in house design and the cost of the home and labor!

"After selecting a house design from the Sears Modern Homes catalog, customers were asked to send in $1. By return mail, they received a bill of materials list and full blueprints. When the buyer placed the actual order for the home-building materials, the $1 was credited toward their purchase.
A few weeks after the order was placed, two boxcars containing 30,000 pieces of house would arrive at the nearest train depot. A 75-page, leather-bound instruction
book told homeowners how to assemble those 30,000 pieces. The book offered this
somber (and probably wise) warning: "Do not take anyone's advice as to how this
building should be assembled."
The kit included 750 pounds of nails, 22 gallons of paint and varnish and 20,000 shingles for the roof and siding. Sears estimated in 1908 that a carpenter would charge $450.00 to assemble Modern Home #111, The Chelsea.
According to the company's calculations, a painter would want $34.50 to paint the two-story foursquare. The plasterer's bill would be around $200, they figured, which included nailing up 840 square yards of wooden lath and applying three coats of plaster. Masonry and plaster was not included in the kit, but the Bill of Materials list advised that 1,100 cement blocks would be needed for the basement walls and foundation."
----- from The Old House Web story on the Sears Modern Homes

My grandmother's house is similar to the Carlin model... the floorplan is not exactly the same, so I am still searching for the exact model. But look at that price: $1,172!!!!

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