Kit Houses

National 2

The surge in innovation and industry at the turn of the twentieth century created job opportunities filled by an aspirational working class. Accountants, managers, and secretaries were key to the smooth operation of businesses. Increased income meant more money to spend on material goods and leisure activities, hence the growth of service industry employees to meet these needs. These new sectors of the workforce were the customer base for kit house companies.

This growing consumerism helped define “standard of living”—a loose idea of what someone in the middle class should own. The subdivision of large estates and farms opened land to housing development. The growing availability of single-family homes on the outskirts of cities and in new suburbs attracted people eager to transition from renting to owning. Streetcar and commuter rail made it possible to live outside the city, far from urban congestion, yet still commute easily to work. Homeownership became a defining goal of what it meant to be a middle-class family, and kit house companies took advantage of that