mail-order-houses

Mail Order Houses


During the early half of the 20th century, companies like Sears, Aladdin, Montgomery Wards and a variety of others, offered mail order homes. Depending on the company, the home would either just be a set of blueprints for the home, or a complete home building kit.


For example, Sears sold entire kits with individually labeled “parts,” which included the lumber for the frame of the home, roofing tiles, floor tile, the kitchen sink and everything else necessary to build the home.

History of Mail Order Homes

From the early 1900s and into the mid 1900s, mail order homes rose in popularity. They were a convenient and economical choice and began popping up in cities all across America.

Companies such as Sears, Montgomery Wards and Aladdin were among a variety of companies offering mail order houses at the time. Depending on the company, the home would either just be a set of blueprints or a complete kit. For example, Sears sold entire kits with individually labeled “parts,” which included everything from the lumber for the frame, to the bathtub, and everything else necessary for the home.

What Do Mail Order Homes Look Like?

Mail order homes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There were hundreds upon hundreds of potential designs, so there are no specific details of a mail order home. Mail order homes mimicked popular designs, created new designs, and so forth.

Sears is a great example of the diversity that was available through purchasing a mail order home. For example, the company offered more than 400 designs from 1908 to 1940 and sold almost 75,000 of the homes.

How to Tell if a House is a Mail Order House

If an owner believes their home may be a potential mail order home, there are a variety of ways to determine it’s origin.

Starting with the year of the home, the owner has a rough estimate of the time frame for which the home was purchased. Plans for mail order homes were used for several years, so it’s a good idea to search through home plans dating back at least five years prior to the construction of the home.

It is also possible to get copies of the original building permits, certificates, mortgage paperwork and any other public records that concern the property in question. This will give the home owner absolute proof as to what the original house plans were, which will also allow for the owner to determine it’s exact origin.

Mail order homes were another sign that times were changing. They gave way for some of the modern manufactured homes of today and represent architecture advancement in American history.