Building your own home is a dream that has never been more achievable than it is now! Self-build kit house kits make the design, planning and permitting, construction, and finishing of your dream home a reality – in a very short time and at a fixed cost.
The problem is, where do you start and which kit do you choose? What do you consider in your choice and how do you make sure you’re getting exactly what you want?
In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about self-build kit houses (also known as prefabricated or modular kit homes) and how to choose the best option for your needs, your values, and your preferences. We also feature 13 amazing home kits to choose from and 4 inspiring kit homes to inspire your dream design, while meeting your sustainability goals.
Let’s dive right in!
What is a Self-Build House Kit?
A self-build house kit (also known as a prefabricated house or modular built house) is a house that is pre-designed and prefabricated off-site. The modules or components for the structure of the house are fabricated in a factory, to the design specifications, and then flat packed and delivered to your building site.
Self-build house kits have seen a surge in popularity in the last decade, with more and more homeowners opting to have their dream homes designed and built up for them. They then either have the modules erected on-site by the supplier or do the installation themselves.
Self-build house kits come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They range from simple garden sheds and beautiful home offices to ‘tiny homes’ and cabins, to large family homes and modern mansions. The options are endless and designed to suit your every need!
They can be bought from standard ranges and those standard designs can also partially customized to add or remove any elements the buyer wants. Many providers also offer packages to construct the modules for fully bespoke designs, either by their in-house team or the buyer’s own architect.
One of the unique benefits of a self-build kit house is that you can choose the level of your involvement in the build. Many providers offer different levels of assistance with the installation.
A popular option is to have the modules delivered and installed to achieve a ‘water and weather tight’ shell, where the walls, floor, and roof are erected by the provider and the wiring, plumbing, and finishes are installed by the home-owner.
Check out this quick video of Trent Palmer’s house kit home when it was midway through installation (more on the finished house below) to see how it looks when they were still working on it themselves:
Some providers offer a service that is tailored to the buyer’s needs, where they do as much of the installation and construction as the buyer wants them to do and leave out only the parts the buyer wishes to DIY themselves. Others offer a full turnkey solution, where they take care of everything from design to final finishes.
These options make self-build kit houses a great option for those who want to build their own house but do not have the time, resources, or skills needed to DIY the entire project.
What Does a Self-Build House Kit Include?
Self-build house kits come in a vast array of options, from materials to finishes and fixtures. The variety of choices is one of the great things about choosing to build from a house kit!
What comes in your self-build house kit depends on the option you choose and how much of your finished home will be supplied by the kit provider and how much will be sourced from other suppliers.
Many buyers choose to have the basic structure (floor, roof, walls) designed, fabricated, and installed by the provider and then doing the rest (electrics, finishes, fixtures, wall cladding, etc) themselves.
However, others opt to have the entire home and everything in it, aside from furniture, supplied by the provider. It comes down to personal preference, budget, and the level of involvement you want to have in the building of your home.
Have a look at Trent Palmer’s video on picking their finishes and fixtured for their house. They opted to have all the fixtures and finishes supplied with the kit (see their finished house in our inspiration section at the end of this guide!):
When it comes to the basic structure, the most common options are a timber frame and closed timber panels. These form the skeleton of the house, with internal and external wall cladding and finishes added on. Some suppliers offer structural insulated panel (SIP) kits and even brick and block house kits.
The advantage of a timber frame and closed timber panels is that they’re lightweight but very durable, and they are relatively easy to alter down the line if you want to make any additions or renovations to your home. The lightness and strength of a timber frame make it a cost-effective option, that is robust and somewhat flexible.
What are the Benefits of Self-Build House Kits?
There are many great benefits to building your own house, using a self-build house kit. These range from finding the perfect fit for your lifestyle and personal preferences to the ease of a quick build and reduced costs. There are also immediate benefits for the environment during construction and long-term benefits like reduced energy consumption.
Here are some of the most important benefits to consider:
Full Control of the Design for Your Self-Build House Kit
The beauty of the self-build kit house is the level of control you have over the design. You can choose a standard design from the range your provider offers or you can choose a design and have them alter it to your needs.
Some providers also offer completely bespoke designs, which they can help you have drawn up or you can use your own architect to do the design and have the fabricators build you the modules to construct the house.
This level of control over the design allows you to customize the elements that matter to you and keep the rest standard if you wish. It means you can build your dream home, with the elements that you value most featured prominently, in a way that is really simple and practical.
Customizing your design also allows you to plan for future expansions and to incorporate any features that will allow you to make use of renewable energy, water harvesting, and natural heating and cooling. These features will save your money and be the foundation for a long-term investment in a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle.
High-Quality Materials and Expert Fabrication of Modules
Traditionally, construction involves a wide range of trades and suppliers. Materials are sourced from suppliers in the area (or those that can deliver to your site without charging a fortune) and this limits your options, especially in remote locations. Cost and accessibility are often the primary factors, with quality coming second.
Once you have your materials, the construction of different elements is often done by different contractors that specialize in one thing, like bricklaying or roofing. This means you have different professionals, doing different things, with different ideas of what high-quality work means.
There are a lot of variables and a lot of steps in the process. Each step can be disrupted or compromised by things like bad weather or poor-quality materials or even poor workmanship.
When you invest in a self-build house kit, all the modules for the house are built in a factory. The quality is controlled and each element or module is constructed with the whole build in mind.
The team who are all working together, and accountable to the same standard of workmanship. They’re also experts at what they do – each unique house is built using the same construction principles that they work with every day.
This all comes together to provide you with a seamless construction package, where each module is crafted to fit perfectly with the rest and they’re delivered to your site ready to erect and go – no waiting three weeks for the bricklayer because he can’t get the right building sand delivered to your site!
Shorter Construction Time
With on-site construction, the weather is your biggest challenge! Inclement weather can cause delays, as does waiting for everything to dry once the rain stops. In addition to the weather, there are always unforeseen delays for things like material delivery.
When the bulk of your construction happens off-site, in a controlled factory setting, far fewer variables to contend with, and your unforeseen delays are minimal.
It can take months to get the foundation and shell built when you’re building everything from scratch on-site. This process takes even longer when you’re building in a remote location and all the different materials have to be delivered to the site before construction can commence.
This is where self-build home kits shine – most package builds come as pre-fabricated modules, ready to be erected on site. The modules can be done at the same time as the foundation is going in on your site, rather than one after the other. Construction to a weather-tight structure, with the floors, wall panels, and roof in place is a quick process – just days in some cases!
Once your shell is erected and waterproof, the rest of the build is much easier. You can do this yourself or you can have contractors do it for you. If you’re using a turnkey solution, the same company that supplied your home kit can complete the process for you.
Prefabricated Homes Generate Less Construction Waste
One of the biggest environmental problems on a construction site is waste. Longer construction periods generate more builder’s waste on site from contractors and they also lead to a loss of materials. Rust, rain damage, erosion all lead to a loss of materials and waste being generated.
Materials for an on-site build are also often purchased with a surplus in mind, to compensate for lost or damaged materials and these extra supplies are seldom recovered for reuse.
When the bulk of the construction happens in a factory, materials can be quantified exactly and no surplus is needed. Offcuts and excess can also be retained for future use. This costs you less and generates less waste.
The shorter on-site construction period also means less waste is generated on your site during the build.
Fewer Negative Environmental Impacts During Construction
In addition to waste, there are a lot of negative environmental impacts associated with construction. These can be difficult to quantify and are often overlooked when it comes to small developments and home builds.
However, for the eco-minded home builder, these are important considerations. The most common negative impacts encountered in a small construction site are:
- Soil Erosion – water and wind erosion from the earthworks on the site can strip away more soil than is necessary, especially if the site is bare for a long time. This can lead to a loss of habitat around the site and sedimentation of nearby water sources. It can also be a challenge for neighbors to the site, who have to contend with the dust.
- Water Pollution – soil eroding from the site, chemicals, and toxic substances found in most common building materials and effluent from temporary on-site ablutions can all harm ground and surface water in the vicinity.
- Noise Pollution – construction is a noisy business. In natural areas, this can be disruptive for local wildlife and in urban areas it can be disruptive to your neighbors. The longer the build, the higher the impact.
- Solid Waste Management – managing waste on a construction site is always a challenge. Collecting, sorting, and removing it can be costly and it often simply gets bundled and tossed without being properly sorted.
- Greater Site Footprint – when you’re building everything on site, the footprint you disturb is bigger. Materials need to be stored and processed on the site and the footprint expands beyond the footprint of the house alone. In natural areas, this reduces the habitat available for flora and fauna more than necessary for your build.
- Emissions – delivering all your materials separately to the site generates greater emissions than when your modules are fabricated off-site and delivered as a finished product. Emissions from construction processes and temporary energy generators are also reduced.
- Energy Usage – having your modules constructed in one place and delivered to your uses less energy. Your fabricator’s factory is likely to be more streamlined and efficient than you will be, out on your site!
These are impacts to consider, especially in remote locations and natural areas. Many impacts will be unavoidable, but the objective is to reduce or minimize them as much as possible.
The streamlined process, shorter construction time, and smaller build footprint of a prefabricated or modular build reduce your home’s impact on the environment during construction.
Designed to be Economical, with Long Term Sustainability in Mind
With a self-build house kit, you’re able to choose exactly what you want and adapt it to your needs. One of the best parts of this is that you can control everything at the design stage and make your new home as sustainable and as cost-effective as possible – right from the get-go!
Here are some things to consider when you’re planning your home build to be environmentally friendly and economical:
- Using renewable energy – if you plan to use solar or wind power, keep this in mind during the design stage and plan your roof angles and the aspect they will face for maximum sun exposure.
- Natural heating and cooling – cut down your energy requirements by positioning your house to get maximum sun in cold climates and maximum shade in hot climates. This simple consideration can make a huge difference to the amount of heating or cooling required in the long run. You can also think about window positioning and through drafts at the design stage to make the most of them for your needs. Finally, choose options with excellent insulation.
- Natural light – at the design stage, consider how much natural light you will be able to use and reduce your reliance energy powered lights. Something as simple as a small skylight over a stairwell can make a huge difference here! So will positioning your windows to get the lightest, for the longest period of the day. Morning and evening spaces should be positioned to get morning and afternoon light too.
- Rainwater harvesting – consider the placement of gutters and piping, as well as storage tanks, during the design stage. This might seem like something to think about once you have everything else in place but planning it will make a big difference to the efficiency of your system and the visual aesthetic of your home.
A useful guideline to use is the Passivehaus standards, which were originally set out by the German Passivehaus Institute. These have been adopted and adapted for many other countries and you can find your local guidelines online.
An Inexpensive Option for a Dream Home
The cost of your self-build house kit will depend on exactly what fabrication options you choose, the size of the house, and the location of your site. Costs vary widely depending on the construction materials used and the cost of transportation to ship/deliver the modules to your site.
Your final cost will also be determined by the finishes you choose and just how much of the work you do yourself vs having your provider deliver a turnkey solution, which minimal involvement from you.
That said, overall, self-build house kits often work out to be cheaper than building the same specifications from scratch would be. When you’re evaluating costs, between providers and against building in traditional ways, make sure you’re “comparing apples with apples” – this will give you a clear indication of which option is cheaper.
Another consideration is the permit value per square foot, which is usually lower for prefabricated construction methods. The best part about pricing a self-build house kit home is the fixed cost – you will get a cost for the finished project that you can plan for from the get-go, with no surprises and no extended work periods!
13 Amazing Self Build House Kits
5 Bedroom Steading House by HebHomes
This beautiful five-bedroom self-build house kit by HebHomes is designed to have two wings, that form a courtyard between them. The courtyard is ideal for a sheltered, sunny space to be outdoors and a means to bring extra natural light into the rooms on both wings of the house.
The pitched roofs on various aspects are ideal for adding solar tiles or panels to your setup and skylights make the most of natural light throughout the house. HebHomes offer various packages for each of their designs so the pricing depends on the package you choose. Prices for this home range from £120 000 for supply only to £480 000 for a full turnkey package.
3 Bedroom, Double Story, 360 Collection House by Deltec Homes
This unique home by Deltec Homes is a round, double-story house that offers 360° views and plenty of natural light. The unique design is compact and functional, yet feels expansive and open at the same time. The circular, multi-storey design is ideal for locations with great views and a smaller building footprint.
Each house in the 360 Collection is fully customizable to suit the needs of the buyer and prices range from $156 000 for a shell supplied to $625 000 for a top-end turnkey solution.
2 Bedroom Athens Log Cabin by Coventry Log Homes
The Athens range by Coventry Log Homes is a stunning take on the traditional log cabin. The house features high cathedral ceilings with exposed beams, a long veranda, and a cozy loft. It combines the cozy feel of natural wood with a modern, open-plan design.
Coventry supplies kits in a range of packages, from a shell to a fully installed structure. Contact Coventry directly for pricing and package options.
This house by Stillwater Dwellings is a customized variation of their Signature Series range of self-build house kits. It features a wrap-around deck, tall glass windows, and angled roofs. The striking design is modern and open, with lots of light from windows on multiple levels. It is designed with sustainability in mind and made to maximize solar panels on the roof and natural lighting indoors.
Prices for the Signature Series vary depending on the specifications and customizations made but they average $425 to $600 per square foot.
1 Bedroom Borgonha Chalet by Baufritz
Inspired by the alpine chalets of Switzerland, this wooden chalet features deep eves, a veranda, and a glass frontage. The style is both traditional and modern, with an open-plan living area that opens onto the veranda.
Baufritz managed to complete the construction for this self-build house kit chalet in just 6 weeks! Contact Baufritz for pricing options and installation packages.
4 Bedroom Bauhaus Townhouse by Baufritz
The Bauhaus movement was all about form and functionality. This striking self-build house kit is a townhouse that is characterized by clean, simple, straight lines and an expansive, open feel. The entire front of the house is glass, over multiple stories, to make the most of the view and expand the feel of the home to the outdoors.
3 Bedroom Bungalow by Hanse Haus
The bungalow design by Hanse Haus is an ideal self-build house kit for a small family or as a home with an eye for the future and retirement. The single-story design is ideal for a retirement home where all areas of the house are easily accessible and the size of the house is not too big as to be difficult to manage and maintain.
Hanse Haus offers a variety of packages and possible extensions/additions to each design in their range. Contact Hanse Haus for packages and pricing.
HebHomes’ Airigh Collection is inspired by the tiny dwellings used by Scottish cattle herders when their cattle were out to pasture in the summer. They’re truly tiny and are often chosen for their small footprint and accessibility (fewer planning restrictions on such a small structure).
You can use it as a little getaway spot, a home office, or a little summerhouse in your yard. Sizing depends on your needs and they can be just one small bedroom/studio or a small cabin with a kitchen and bathroom. Starting prices range from £20 000 for the smallest one and go up to £42 000 for a two-bedroom.
3 Bedroom Bespoke Oaklands Home by Facit Homes
The bespoke house by Facit Homes was designed for the owners to allow extensive views of their garden, and easy entertaining and living areas. The house was also designed to be highly energy-efficient and to maximize energy generation through solar panels. Decking and some external features were also made from reclaimed and recycled materials.
Facit Homes’ pricing varies by project but it ranges from £1 960 per m² to £2 400 per m² for a turnkey solution. They’re pretty generous with what they include, so check out the Fact Homes Pricing Page for more detail on what they offer.
2 Bedroom Bespoke ‘Upside-Down’ House by Potton
This self-build house kit was designed to be ‘upside-down’ with the living areas on the upper floor of the two-story home. Switching the layout like this allows the living areas to be elevated enough to have great views out over the countryside.
Potton designed the house to the owner’s specifications and handled the planning and permitting processes for them, as well as the structural fabrication and construction. The total build cost (excluding the land) was £580 000.
1 Bedroom Sea Spray by Imagine Kit Homes
Imagine Kit Homes’ Sea Spray design is a compact, one-bedroom self-build house kit. The house includes a deck, bathroom, and kitchen ideal for a small getaway spot or, as their website states “a mancave out back”. The windows and sliding glass doors open onto the deck for maximum natural light and airflow, while making each indoor space feel open and bigger.
Imagine Kit Homes offers several different packages and finishes. Their online quote building feature will help you get a sense of what your options are and how much they will cost. The Sea Spray starts from $30 838 (AUD).
4 Bedroom Custom Designed Kit Home by Ecoliv Sustainable Buildings
This four-bedroom home was a bespoke project made the buyer’s specifications and designed by Ecvoliv. The house is designed to be eco-friendly and energy-efficient. It features a floor plan that allows all areas of the house to flow through the living areas, with easy access to the deck and outdoor areas.
The custom design and build cost between $348 000 and $470 000 + GST (AUD), with the extra features and finishes selected by the client. Ecoliv is a sustainability-focused provider and a member of the Australian Passive House Association.
1 Bedroom Eco Grid Home by Ecoliv Sustainable Buildings
The Eco Grid range by Ecoliv is a great option for a smaller, compact yet spacious feeling home. They’re designed with sustainability in mind and the one featured here includes an off-grid solar power system and battery storage and solar-powered hot water. It also includes energy-efficient double glazing, natural timber cladding, and carbon-neutral paint. The vertical garden is built with a recycled steel pergola over it.
This home starts at $185 000 + GST (AUD) with the standard Ecoliv features. Additional features and fixtures can be customized for each owner’s preference.
Inspiration: 4 Stunning Self-Build Kit Houses
As you can see above, there is a huge variety of options available for your self-build house kit. It truly is possible to design your dream house and have it ready to live in within a short time frame!
Here are four of our favorite modular kit homes to inspire you to dream and design your own:
- Trent Palmer – 3 Bedroom Home with Stunning Finishes and Expansive Views
- Ecoliv – Cape Project: A Modern Take on the A-Frame, with Impressive Eco-Credentials
- Homebuilding & Renovating – Spectacular Timber Frame Self-build, Scotland
- Channel 4 Lifestyle – Home That Was Built in 3 Days for £220K
To wrap it up, we have covered what a self-build kit house is, the benefits of a prefabricated kit home, and what to consider in your design and selection of the best option for your unique needs. We have featured 13 amazing kit homes to choose from and 4 stunning homes to inspire you.
This is everything you need to dive into your design and cost comparisons and, of course, realizing your self-build home dreams!
References and Useful Resources
Home Building and Renovating: Passivhaus: A Beginner’s Guide to Low Energy Builds
NextPhase : Tips for Self-Build Plots in the Countryside
U.S. General Services Administration: A Guide to Sustainable Design
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a self-build house kit?
A self-build house kit is a pre-designed and pre-fabricated house that is made in a factory and then shipped to your location. The different components of your house, like the frame, wall panels, roof, windows and fixtures are made as modules that can be assembled and installed on site in a very short period of time. Read the full guide for more on self-build house kits.
What comes in a self-build house kit?
Different self-build house kits are made up of different components and materials. The options you choose will determine what you get from the supplier and what you will supply yourself. Most suppliers offer a range of options that include the bare bones or shell of the house or a full turnkey solution that includes everything you need. Read the full guide for more on what comes in a house kit.
What are the benefits of a self-build house kit?
There are loads of great benefits to using a self-build house kit. Some of the key benefits are:
- Full Control of the Design for Your Self-Build House Kit
- High-Quality Materials and Expert Fabrication of Modules
- Shorter Construction Time
- Prefabricated Homes Generate Less Construction Waste
- Fewer Negative Environmental Impacts During Construction
- Designed to be Economical, with Long Term Sustainability in Mind
- An Inexpensive Option for a Dream Home
Check out the full guide for more detail on the benefits of a kit home and modular construction