Kit homes have always been about accessibility. Not only in the obvious sense - bringing houses to the masses through systematic construction, but also, and primarily, bringing architectural features to the masses that were typically affordable only to the wealthy.
The early 20th century saw the popularity of kit homes such Sears & Roebuck and Alladin Homes. While there were hundreds of models and styles available, they became notable for their inclusion of indoor plumbing and modern heating systems, which were just becoming available to the middle class.
In the modern era, starting in the 1930's, notable architects started developing kit and modular homes. Buckminster Fuller, famous for the geodesic dome, invented many efficient homes that could be easily transported and quickly set up with integral plumbing and electrical systems. The Dymaxion "Wichita" house is shown below.
Frank Llyod Wright's Usonian (shown here) and Usonian Automatic houses were the affordable solution to his idealistic American architecure, with radiant floor heating and passive solar heating brought into the modern age.
Walter Gropious and the Bauhaus were rethinking the use of the machine in architecture. Gropius's architectural firm, The Architects' Collaborative in Cambridge, MA developed and built neighborhoods of simple modern houses using innovative building systems and designs using off-the-shelf building materials. I had the good fortune of renovating many of these 1950s structures in the Boston suburbs.
A student of Gropius's, Carl Koch, developed the successful Techbuilt homes (shown here) which led to Deck House in the 1970s, all with the popular mid-century modern look.
Many of these designs were comprised of prefabricated elements, but usually still required skilled builders and cranes to assemble them.
Noble Home has been focusing on affordablility through owners' sweat equity investment. And now, Noble Home anticipates leading the way with kits that are among the most energy efficient: homes that create more energy than they use, net zero energy homes.