Blueprints born out of tragedy

Marketplace Staff Jul 18, 2007

TEXT OF STORY

Doug Krizner: Construction of new homes rose 2.3 percent in June. That was better than expected, but plans for future home building sank to 10-year low. When some of those homes of the future are built, they may have a unique design. The blueprints for these were developed following Hurricane Katrina. Elizabeth Wynne Johnson reports.


Elizabeth Wynne Johnson: Marianne Cusato designed the first Katrina Cottage almost two years ago.

At 308 square feet, the cottage was the size of a FEMA trailer, but it had a sweet little porch on its diminutive faA§ade, and the traditional stick-built construction was designed to be permanent.

Today a small number of Katrina Cottages are under construction in Louisiana and Mississippi. They range in size from 500 to 1,000 square feet.

Marianne Cusato: The reason why it happened isn’t great, but I think that’s sort of the American story, is that we take things that happen that are awful and we turn it around and find the best and work together to deal with things and make things better.

Cusato says the concept is going national. Lowe’s sells the blueprints for $700. The retail giant sees market opportunities well beyond emergency housing.

Lowe’s won’t say how many plans have sold, but it says buyers are building the cottages as vacation homes and even granny-flats for aging parents.

In Los Angeles, I’m Elizabeth Wynne Johnson for Marketplace.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.