As the Mississippi home building industry works to help Gulf Coast residents displaced by the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, its members continue to appreciate signs of progress — like a bright new design for temporary housing unveiled at the International Builders’ Show earlier this month in Orlando, Fla.
The outpouring of help from the fellow home builders and product suppliers of NAHB has been overwhelming, Home Builders Association of Mississippi Executive Officer J. Martin Milstead said at a Jan. 11 press conference during the show.
And after weeks of moving rubble, some home builders are now able to turn to the work of constructing homes. That’s a good thing, Milstead said. “It’s nice to stop tearing stuff down and to start rebuilding.”
Milstead and representatives from the state Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal told attendees about the week-long discussions last October among distinguished architects, designers, engineers and land planners on how to rebuild the 11 Mississippi communities that stretch along 110 miles of the coast.
The experts contributed ideas for rebuilding retail centers, transportation networks and other infrastructure using “smart growth” tenets that will help avoid sprawl and conserve resources.
Planners also offered ideas for replacing destroyed housing stock, one of which was exhibited at the Builders’ Show: the Katrina Cottage, a tidy 300-square-foot Gulf Coast-style home with room for a family of four. The house was constructed in less than a week at a cost of about $25,000 in Mississippi and trucked over to the Orange County Convention Center parking lot so builders attending the show could take a tour of it.
Inexpensive and easy to build, the Katrina Cottage was constructed from one of more than a dozen plans that commission members are recommending in lieu of traditional temporary housing. “It’s a delightful little place that actually feels huge,” said architect Andrés Duany, who also spoke at the press conference.
The cottage has a wide front porch and, depending on how it is sited, can become permanent housing. If built in the front of the lot, it can become a traditional “shotgun” house with new sections added to its rear. It can become a wing to a larger house if built on the side of the lot. If built in the back of the lot as temporary housing while work on a permanent house is completed, the cottage can become a guest house or studio.
Duany called on home builders, urban planners and engineers to continue volunteering to assist members of the Mississippi home building industry as they rebuild. The Gulf Coast, he pointed out, is fragile, but it’s also beautiful, and longtime residents want to move back as soon as they can. “We need to rebuild so it’s safer and stronger,” he said at the press conference.