100 Years Ago Sears Sold Cheap Mail-Order DIY Homes!

In 1908, Sears issued its first specialty catalog for houses, Book of Modern Homes and Building Plans, featuring 44 kit-house styles ranging in price from the US $360–$2,890. That's the equivalent of US $9,147-$73,431 today

Cover of 1922 Sears Modern Homes catalog

As Sears mail-order catalogs were in millions of homes, large numbers of potential homeowners were able to open a catalog, see different house designs, visualize their new home and then purchase it directly from Sears. Sears reported that more than 70,000 of these homes were sold in North America between 1908 and 1940.

In late 1918, Sears conducted a “race,” building two houses, a Sears Honor Built the pre-cut kit home and an identical house with no pre-cut lumber. The pre-cut Honor Bilt Rodessa was the easy winner in this race, with 231 hours to spare (compared to the stick-built house). 

Today, those two houses are still standing side by side as Sears struggles to survive the retail revolution brought in by the likes of Amazon. 

Check out the Sears homes that are still standing across US cities here

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