Kit Houses

Chronology 8 Post War Prefab

1956 House Plans, Realistic Homes, Boston, Mass. Courtesy of Historic New England.

The industrial advances of the World Wars, combined with the intense demand for housing following World War II, triggered the development of fully prefabricated homes in the 1950s and 1960s. In contrast to kit houses, these were constructed in three-dimensional sections, or modules, at a factory and then transported to the site for quick assembly. Plan books depicting the Capes, Ranch houses, and Split Levels popular at the time were produced by companies like the National Plan Service and Realistic Homes.  Lumber, roofing, masonry, and other materials suppliers distributed these plan books under their own names to customers.

Lenders were more willing to provide affordable mortgages, thanks to the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), established as part of the New Deal. The FHA insured mortgages made by private lenders for single and multi-family housing.  After frugal living during the war years, couples were eager to begin a family and build a future—and home ownership was central to that dream.

Burlington Free Press, August 1, 1953