LOWE'S, THE NATION'S SECOND largest home improvement retailer, has finalized an exclusive licensing agreement with New York designer Marianne Cusato to carry the house plans and related building materials needed to construct Katrina Cottages. Four cottage designs will debut this month in 30 stores throughout Mississippi and Louisiana. Model homes will serve as sales centers in four locations, while the remaining stores will market the cottage packages through kiosks.
Conceived as a more permanent alternative to FEMA trailers, the Creole revival structures (see “Cottage Industry,” June 2006, page 44) are designed to withstand winds up to 140 miles per hour. Plans, now available in stores, range from 544 to 936 square feet.
Harking back to the days of the Sears kit house, the packages—which contain everything except foundation materials, labor, and HVAC—are expected to retail for $45 to $55 per square foot, or $25,000 to $50,000 per cottage. That's not including land and installation costs, which could double the price tag for each dwelling. By comparison, FEMA spends about $75,000 to deliver and install a 23- to 28-foot trailer to storm victims.
Cusato, whose design brings to fruition a concept first conceived by New Urbanist planner Andrés Duany, suggests that the bungalows could easily be grouped into villages and used to restore whole neighborhoods. “There is a heritage and a pride of place [in the Gulf region], and a lot of that was lost,” she says. “We're looking at details and proportions and styles that will restore some of that history.”