Extending your living space via kit homes


I've recently written an articles regarding using VanHomes as a permanent home in Australia. And there has been a lot more requests about prefabricated, aka prefab kit homes too. For this sector, we worked with Greenspan and Cedarspan with their clients.

In the heart of Australia's picturesque landscapes and the ever increasing interest rates, the charm of barn style kit homes is undergoing a revival as homeowners embark on the journey of transforming these rustic structures into contemporary living spaces in their backyard. In this article, we'll delve into the art of installing a barn style kit home and using it as a modern, functional dwelling that seamlessly blends heritage aesthetics with the comforts of contemporary living.

What are Kit Homes?

A kit home is a kind of building that is assembled on-site (like a conventional timber frame building) but where all the parts of the structure have been pre-cut at a factory and they've been delivered in packages (usually flat-packs). In most cases, kit homes can be customized as per customer’s wish (i.e. the size of the rooms can be altered, windows can be moved, …). Building with kit homes allows for flexibility while maintaining the cost of building affordable and the entire process not to complex.

What can you expect from a kit home?

A kit home can bring several benefits to your project. The most important are:

  1. Less time used on site.
    A house kit contains all the parts necessary to build the structure of the house. All parts are pre-cut at the factory and the kit comes with detailed assembly instructions.
    Compared to a traditional built (where parts are measured and cut on-site), using a kit shortens (by weeks) the time spent on the construction site for putting together the structure.
  2. Less waste.
    When building with traditional methods, carpenters cut wood beams on-site and they cut what they need when they need it. Consequently, there is no optimization of materials and a lot of wood goes to waste in the form of pieces that are too short to be used in the build.
    Home kits are cut in the factory using an automated saw. The machine knows in advance all the pieces it has to cut and optimizes the work so that there is the minimum possible amount of waste left.
  3. Less skilled workforce.
    Since the thinking is done at the factory, construction workers on-site do not need to be skilled carpenters.
    Putting together the structure is quite easy as the kit comes with IKEA-like detailed instructions.
  4. Sourcing materials and services locally.
    The kit contains most of the parts necessary for getting the building Weathertight. However, to save on transport costs, some materials are not included in the kit and they must be sourced locally (insulation for example).
    This allows buying those components at a better price, thus saving a considerable amount of money.
    Sourcing materials and services locally also allow getting competitive prices on interior finishing works and technical installations.

On the other hand, in order to get all these benefits, you need to invest in planning before you order the kit.

Getting a very clear idea of what you want to build is critical to the success of your project.
This is why we always recommend creating your vision first.

What A Kit Home is NOT?

When it comes to prefabricated wooden buildings, the internet does not paint a very clear picture.
In fact, there is a lot of confusion online about terminology. Manufacturers use terms like “modular”, “prefab”,  “pre-cut” interchangeably and this is plain wrong and misleading.

A kit home is a building that has to be built entirely on-site and it comes in packages of pre-cut material.

Now, the building might have a modular architecture (based on some geometric pattern that repeats itself but this doesn’t make it a modular building.

In the prefab industry, a “modular” house is a building that comes on-site in ready-made boxes. The boxes are fully finished (even inside) and they just need to be installed on the ground and connected together.

Needless to say, this form of construction is faster but way more expensive.

Kit homes are nothing like that. The idea behind building with a kit is to save money. A kit home will require investing some of your time (either in the building works or in the planning) and it will repay in a more affordable construction process.

Of all the prefabricated techniques, kit homes are the most basic one and the one where you can save the most since you can use your own time in various stages of the building and you can customize a lot of details to your own wish (even finish some parts later if you like).

Re-discovering Barn House Kit Homes

Start by introducing readers to the allure of barn houses and their unique architectural features. Discuss the rising trend in Australia of repurposing these historic structures and turning them into stylish, comfortable homes.

Designing The Barn House Kit

Many clients thought that when they purchase a barn house kit, everything has been designed. To some extend, they are correct. The manufacturer would have designed in accordance with AS1684 Timber Structures up to a certain extend. However, it still has to be properly designed to specifically suit the location of where the building is intended to be built. For example, the kit home has to be designed in accordance with AS1170.2:2021 and proved that the section sizes designed is suitable for the wind pressure.

Our engineers have years of experience in conducting a thorough structural assessment of the prefab kit homes before the manufacturer started the manufacturing process. In ArchiEng, we work closely with the manufacturer to ensure every element is designed to the relevant Australian Standards and NCC 2022 regulation. We will look at the structural integrity, foundation, and potential challenges associated with the design. Once that's designed, the design will be checked by an .

Expanding Living Spaces

Detail the process of extending the barn house to create additional living spaces. Cover topics such as choosing the right materials for the extension, incorporating sustainable design, and maximizing natural light to enhance the overall living experience.

Highlight the opportunities to integrate modern amenities within the rustic setting of a barn house. Discuss strategies for incorporating contemporary kitchens, bathrooms, and technological features while maintaining the historical appeal.

Sustainable Design and Energy Efficiency

Emphasize the potential for creating an environmentally friendly living space by incorporating sustainable design elements and energy-efficient features. Discuss options such as solar panels, rainwater harvesting, and eco-friendly insulation.

How to successfully connected a barn style kit home to an original house to extend the space

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