In 1908, Sears issued its first specialty catalog for houses, Book of Modern Homes and Building Plans, featuring 44 house styles ranging in price from $360 to $2,890. These early houses, however, were not prefabricated. Sears simply provided the raw materials; the buyer had to cut the timber to appropriate dimensions themselves. The first pre-cut timber pieces were offered in 1916. According to Sears, building a house with pre-cut lumber reduced construction time by up to forty percent. Sears also provided wallpapers, paint, and varnishes, lath, shingles, roofing, and windows. Doors and windows in particular were pre-assembled and trim pre-cut and shaped. However, the package did not include the foundations, masonry cladding, or plaster because providing masonry would have increased overhead cost-reducing customer satisfaction in terms of cost.
An average Sears Modern Home kit had approximately 25 tons of materials, with over thirty thousand parts. To keep costs low, certain items such as indoor plumbing, furnaces, electrical wiring, and bathroom were offered as options. Sears also offered a plasterboard product similar to modern drywall as an alternative to the plaster and lath wall-building techniques which required skilled carpenters and plasterers, all done to keep prices low and appeal to prospective buyers.
The delivery chain logistics of the Sears Modern Home was very efficient for the time, with customers receiving updates when a product was shipped and their expected date of arrival. The materials were usually sent through rail, because it was efficient and relatively inexpensive. Most houses would fit into two boxcars, but they were generally delivered in stages as the construction progressed. The customer received a detailed list of the materials scheduled to arrive, their origin and expected arrival date. Then each supply point mailed a postcard to the customer to say when each component had actually been shipped. Once the shipments arrived at the local train depot, the customer arranged for them to be transported by cart or by truck to the building site. — Sears Mail-Order Homes