In 1922, construction began on this massive 21,000-square foot home (see picture below). It was built by entrepreneur and industrialist Edward Knight, Jr and his wife Marie. It’s located on the Currituck Sound (Corolla, North Carolina), one of the most beautiful places in North America. Edward loved to hunt waterfowl, and this majestic home in a majestic setting provided the perfect spot. Cost to construct was $385,000, a fantastic sum of money in 1922.
And no, it’s not a kit home. You’d be surprised at how many people ask me if an enormous fancy home is a kit house.
When you look at kit homes, you need to think about what a kit home is. These were mail-order kits, that arrived by boxcar in 12,000 pieces. The wanna-be homeowner had 24 hours to get that boxcar unloaded and get its contents moved to the building site. Once there, the homeowner had four months to build the house, or the Ward’s or Sears mortgage he’d obtained would be null and void.
Sears promised that a “man of average abilities” could built a kit home. That’s a pretty low threshold when you think about. These homes were designed for the novice, who’d built nothing fancier than a chicken coop in his life. On the 75-page instruction books that came with the house, even the proper spacing of those 750 pounds of nails was included. Both Sears and Ward’s knew who their market was: Men (and sometimes women) who were scrambling and striving to catch a piece of the American Dream.
Kit home manufacturers made everything as easy as possible at every point and turn. Staircases were all very simple, with no complex twists or turns. Newel posts were straightforward and boxy. Doors came pre-mortised, ready to receive hinges and hardware. Plinth blocks (flat, square blocks) were used at complex corners to make joinery simpler.
When looking at a potential kit home, ask yourself, is this house simple enough to be a kit home? And if it looks too fancy to be a kit home, it probably is.