“Katrina Cottages” Spark Tiny House Movement

March 12, 2011

Katrina Cottage in New OrleansIn the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the people of New Orleans were desperately looking for answers to their usable housing shortage. The now infamous FEMA trailers were brought in to provide residents semi-permanent housing. 

At $70,000 a piece, it quickly became clear that the trailers would just be too expensive.  170 participants, including twelve architects, assisted with the design of what became known as the Katrina Cottage – “a small, sturdy, dignified house” that can be delivered and built for the same cost as a FEMA trailer.

Today these cottages have helped spawn a new movement in eco-conscious living: the Tiny House Movement. People around the world are building really small living spaces and loving their new simplified lives. Cottages are being built in resorts, camps, military bases, as guest houses, and as primary living quarters. These tiny houses can range from 1,000 square feet down to less than 100, and are certainly not ramshackle shacks.

Katrina Cottages are built to withstand hurricane force winds and comply with International Building Code (IBC). They are available in kit form, or plans can be purchased from Lowe’s.

Due to the lack of floor space, space planning and efficiency are key. Many have washer/dryer combinations that perform both functions in the same machine. Luxury spas and bathtubs are not found in these tiny residences.

Although many of the fixtures are reminiscent of those found in recreational vehicles, these cottages are not trailers. They are designed to be permanent structures, only differing from standard houses due to their size.  The standard two bedroom plan from Lowe’s is listed at 544 square feet.

There are several blogs and web sites touting the advantages of living small, including the environmental impacts. For more information, visit: The Tiny Life, The Tiny House Blog, or Not So Big House.

Photo Source: Infrogmation, Katrina Cottage Housing, Lowe’s


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Dawn Killough

has over 15 years experience in the construction industry and is the author of Green Building Design 101, an e-book available from Amazon. She is a LEED AP and Certified Green Building Advisor, and has worked on the LEED Certification of three projects in Salem, Oregon.  
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