Living small

A big “thank you” to The Consumerist for directing us to this news …

According to the Lowe’s website:

Soon after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, architect and planner, Andres Duany developed the concept for a small, permanent home designed as a dignified alternative to the FEMA trailer. The first Katrina Cottage was designed by Marianne Cusato as affordable housing for displaced residents and emergency workers …

Now, as a result of demand in other markets, Lowe’s is making available Katrina Cottage plans and kits to consumers across the country.

Similar to the Sears “Modern” mail-order homes that were popular in the first half of the 1900s, the Katrina Cottages are considered to be complete homes. A purchase of a Katrina Cottage contains all of the required materials except for the home’s foundation, HVAC system, and furniture.

The smallest blueprint plan Lowe’s offers is for a two bedroom, one bath, 544 square foot home. The largest blueprint plan is for a five bedroom, three bath, 1807 square-foot model. There are 11 plans total, and all models have plans available for additions and build-outs.

Pricing isn’t direct on the website, but piecing together what information exists, it looks like costs start around $20,000. For the price of a new car, you could have a new home.

If the cottage style doesn’t speak to you, but you’re interested in small, pre-fabricated homes, you might enjoy the homes listed on FabPreFab. Many of the homes on the site are just as small, some ever smaller, than the Katrina Cottages.

14 Comments for “Living small”

  1. posted by Eric on

    My home is 1150sqft, but the 10ft ceilings on the first floor are nice and give the home a roomy feel. My mom lives in a 800 sqft home that seems bigger than mine at times because she is the queen of organization.

    Either way having a small(er) home allows for more concentration on what matters. There just isn’t any space left for serious amounts of clutter assuming you wish to keep your sanity. The perks of the small(er) home also include shortened cleaning times, smaller mortgage, and lower maintenance ( most of the time ).

  2. posted by Chris Rasco on

    I’m in a 2300sqft home right now and while we are working at trimming all of the clutter, I think we could easily drop back to 1800 or 1900 sqft.

    That being said, some of the homes listed on FabPreFab are out of this world expensive. $250-300/sq ft translates to a very expensive home.

  3. posted by Erin at Unclutterer on

    Chris — Oh yeah, some of the FabPreFab homes are extremely expensive. Not all of them are, though. In fact, I think I love some of the less expensive, smaller models best.

  4. posted by Ailene on

    Chris –> you must not live in Washington State. I’ve seen condos selling for over $300,000 that are smaller than your home. Housing prices stink out here… and forget about getting a yard… unless you pay a lot extra. Of course, that’s not everywhere in Washington. Mainly anyplace within 50 miles of Seattle.

    Erin, how did you figure that the costs of a new home start at $20,000? Considering I’d be lucky to find an apartment

  5. posted by Ailene on

    Oops, didn’t finish that last part… Erin, how did you figure that the costs of a new home start at $20,000? Considering I’d be lucky to find an apartment-sized condo for 10 times that amount, I’d love to hear how you came to that conclusion! I understand that was for the cheapest one… but I would still like to know!

  6. posted by Betsbillabong on

    Well, that price doesn’t include the land, I’m sure…

  7. posted by Chris Rasco on

    My house was only in the $180s to boot. Land down here in South Texas isn’t that expensive yet. All you east and west coasters are moving in and paying top dollar though.

  8. posted by Cliff on

    I’ve seen many of the “Katrina homes” here in my home town of New Orleans. There are some very nice “pre-fab” homes that people are getting, here and there. One of the biggest benefits is, that because they’re modular, they’re easier to raise up on higher foundations, so they resolve one issue of homes in “near to flooding” neighborhoods.

    But, some of the less classy ones are more like trailers with a porch and a decent exterior, once you get inside them. Plastic walls (which is great if you have kids and crayons, I guess), teeny kitchen appliances, and they rock back and forth if you get a good dance going :). I might like it, because I am a bachelor with a neat-freak OC disorder! But they’re not sturdy enough for a family, and they’re just as unsafe during a tornado as any mobile-home-style trailer. I appreciate the exteriors, since they “fit in” a bit better with New Orleans’ shotgun frame architecture, but the slats and wainscoting are cosmetic, not structural, on the cheap ones, and if you get close enough you can really see the cheapness.

    So, like all things, it depends on whether you get a nice one or not. Also, follow the story about the FEMA trailer formaldehyde not being cured properly in some batches, and you’ll see another potential risk for pre-fab homes.

  9. posted by Andamom on

    I like the idea of this — but because I live in New York City, I doubt that I’ll ever be able to create my own house. It potentially makes sense outside of cities where land is more plentiful… There are empty lots in the cities too I suppose, but in my area, there isn’t sufficient space (not to mention I doubt that these pre-fab home would pass the historical society guidelines for building in this area).

  10. posted by karen on

    i’ve toured the katrina cottage & questioned one of the folks at lowe’s about it extensively. the $20k (i believe it’s actually $35k) is the price for the basic kit, not the house. they recommend you hire your own builder (none of the stuff is precut or prefitted), which they figure should cost you about $50/sqft. their estimates don’t include basics like air conditioning. the finished cost on the smallest model, supposing you already own land on which to put it, is upwards of $75k. not exactly a bargain in this neck of the woods, especially considering that you can buy one of those god-awful suburban tract homes for the low $100s. and that’s brand new.

    i’ve never understood the media buzz over this thing. i can’t state with certainty but feel confident the architect/designer was subsidized by some relief fund or another. i don’t know anyone who is seriously considering a katrina cottage. i have, however, considered a prefab guest house from zoe outdoors a MUCH more viable alternative in my opinion. and they can’t get arrested in the gulf south.

    /rant. love your site.

  11. posted by Erin at Unclutterer on

    Great comment, Karen. Thanks for your insight!! The Zoe Outdoors guest house is cool.

  12. posted by shea on

    A bit of a tangent, but I visited a company ( near where I live on Vancouver Island, BC that sells “panelized” home kits. They have a catalog of plans available, or you can have them work from any plan of your own. They build everything in their shop and what gets delivered is a stack of panels (pre-built, insulated walls, with window/door openings) that are put together onsite by you or a contractor. They deliver whole houses in shipping containers, or by flatbed truck. Apparently the assembly is pretty straightforward and very fast, since mostly you are just attaching a bunch of walls together onto an existing foundation instead of framing onsite. The quick onsite build saves time and money on trades as well. The quality is also very high, since everything is laid out and cut with computer-controlled machinery in their shop. A nice option for anyone planning to build their own home. Dunno what the cost is compared to other options.

  13. posted by SP on

    I’d like to add something here about these cottages. I don’t know that they are something everyone in all regions of the US would want considering other options for housing, however, the purpose of this project was to create fast housing during a housing crisis following Katrina, and to create housing that was permanent.

    That’s what this does. It has now been picked up by Lowes as a pre-fab type home.

    I’d take one of these homes in a second if I were without a home and neighborhood following a disaster. Especially considering my only other option at the time would be a temporary trailer.

    These houses, while flawed in some ways, still go up faster than those horrible tract homes in suburbia which were mentioned before. And they allow neighborhoods to come back together quickly.

  14. posted by A Million Paths on

    One might also consider Tumble Weed Tiny Houses ( the architect lives in one of his own houses, they’re tiny, beautiful, and unlike the Zoe Outdoors houses which presume you’ll have a main house to hook up to, it includes a kitchen and ways to heat etc the house yourself.

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