Sears, the department store, sold DIY homes via catalog for 32 years between 1908 and 1940 through a program called Sears Modern Homes. They offered 447 different housing styles which you can see here.
The designs were not ‘remarkable’ in any way: Sears themselves admit that they were “not an innovative home designer”. These were just some popular styles at the times they were offered.
However, as a customer, you would have enjoyed a lot of agency in either customizing a home you picked as a starting point from the catalog, or submitting your own custom, crazy blueprint to Sears. Prices ranged from $600 - $6,000 ($18,620 - $186,200 in today’s money). You could get a 5-15 year loan at 6-7% interest.
Your “assembly required” home would have been dispatched to you via railroad boxcar. Your delivery would’ve had around 30,000 (or more) parts of all sorts: wiring, plumbing, bricks, mortar, lumber, staircases, nails, paint, varnish, and so on. To raise this barn, you would’ve either enlisted your family and friends’ help or contracted out the work to a local handyperson.
The most expensive home was an Honor Bilt and looked like this:
Sears estimate that they sold between 70,000 to 75,000 homes over thirty-two years. It is hard to estimate the number of these homes that are still standing for various reasons. For one, Sears’ own records of which homes were sold to whom were inexplicably destroyed during an enthusiastic “corporate house cleaning”. For another, Sears allowed homebuyers a generous amount of customization. Finally, the passage of time that naturally changes a home complicates its identification and authentication.
I was interested in what one of these dwellings looked like on the inside and found this media of a design called the Martha Washington. One was listed in February 2016 in DC for a million dollars.