Entry 872: Don’t Try This Home at Home

A few years ago, I did a post about all the stuff I’ve ordered from Amazon since my first purchase in 1996. I ended that piece with a joke about getting my next house from Amazon.

Well, I’m happy to report that now I can.

Unfortunately, my pal Jeff Bezos has not entered the real estate business, unless the real estate in question is on the moon, where he plans to start a settlement as soon as he gets his space craft up there and figures out how to deliver stuff in two days.

But he will happily send you a house–with free shipping no less! All you need is someplace to put it.

I should also mention that some assembly is required.

But according to the listing on Amazon, the Allwood Solvalla | 172 SQF Studio Cabin Kit Garden House can be put together by two adults in about eight hours. I don’t believe, however, that they’re talking about two adults who call their daughter to help assemble an IKEA table. I can tell you this: my wife and I recently spent several hours assembling a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe plastic car for our granddaughter, and considering how much cursing that entailed, I can’t even imagine putting together a building.

Considering that I don’t even understand most of this diagram, I figure that if I was one of the adults involved, I’d have a better chance of ending up on the moon with Bezos than ending up with any sort of a structure that someone would want to enter.

Here’s the full description:

“Allwood Solvalla is a garden house kit made from high quality Nordic wood. This timeless design is an alternative to classic log cabin styled structures. It works well in a variety of surroundings. Versatile Solvalla can also be set up on rooftops of multi story buildings. Assembly of this solid wood structure takes a full day for two adults. Do it yourself simple step-by-step directions come with the kit and only minimal tools are needed. Important: This item includes all the parts and hardware except the roof shingles and foundation materials (roofing shingles approx. cost $150.00 and foundation materials approx. cost $170.00).”

First, let me say that one paragraph is kind of a chintzy write-up for a $7,250 building that they expect you to put together. I am glad the wood is Nordic in case I want to invite some Vikings over when I get finished building it, but are there windows? It doesn’t say anything about windows. And what do they mean that I have to buy my own shingles? You mean it doesn’t come with a roof? It says that I can put the house on a roof but what about the roof on the house? Isn’t it important for buildings to have roofs?  Or am I just supposed to build the thing under the do-it-yourself retractable awning we bought last year (and, I should add, paid someone else to install).

On the other hand, the description says that only minimal tools are needed. That’s promising, because minimal tools is exactly what we own. It doesn’t say which tools, though, and unless the tools are power drills and Allen wrenches (we have several of each for some reason), we may be out of luck.

And something else. Look carefully at the photo in the Amazon listing above. Forget for a moment that they seem to be implying that the gray-haired, presumably Norse gentleman in the foreground has managed to assemble this thing by himself. Look to the far left . . . do you see that other set of windows? Now look at the top of the picture . . . do you see the ceiling? Yes, that’s right: this poor old feeble man, while obviously handy, has placed his new house inside his old house!

Maybe that’s why it doesn’t need a roof!

You may also notice that this particular item is not highly rated on Amazon. It only has one star. It also only has only one review, and it’s not even from a customer. Here it is:

“Screw this. For the price you can have an addition built on your house with ac. And electric. Not to mention you could buy the materials and do this yourself for under 4000″

I don’t believe they’re talking to me personally when they say “you could buy the materials and do this yourself for under 4000.” I really can’t imagine myself marching into Home Depot and requesting a bunch of Nordic wood and some Gorilla Glue. And I don’t think the $4,000 they mention includes the shingles . . . or the hospital bills I would undoubtedly incur.

The Allwood Solvalla | 172 SQF Studio Cabin Kit Garden House is just one of the many houses you can order from Amazon. They go up to $17,800 for one with a loft that I would 

have to build a staircase to get up to and would, if somebody dared to climb a staircase that I built, probably not be able to hold the weight of that brave person.

By the way, in case you think that Amazon is blazing new territory with its mail order houses, you might be interested to know that, in the first half of the 20th Century, Sears sold much more elaborate home kits via mail and many of them are still standing (which is more than I can say for Sears).

These grand, kit-based Sears homes owe their longevity to quality materials, old-fashioned American know-how, and the fact that I wasn’t born until the second half of the 20th Century.

Oh, yeah, and roofs. They have roofs.

See you soon.

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