Before Hurricane Katrina, it was rare to find a house in New Orleans that had not been built using traditional “stick” construction. Now, in areas like Lakeview, a New Orleans suburb adjacent to Lake Pontchartrain, modular housing is popping up all over the place. In a city historically filled with bargeboard shotguns, Creole cottages, and Greek Revival mansions, why build a house composed of pre-fabricated boxes? In the post-Katrina era, while so many New Orleans residents remain displaced, building modular is a quicker route to getting back home.
One of the biggest roadblocks when it comes to rebuilding in New Orleans has been a lack of qualified labor. With so many homes needed and so few skilled laborers available to do the work required for traditional building, on-site construction can take well upwards of a year to complete. Over the course of that year, the home is exposed to a significant amount of weather, and a family remains displaced, living out of a trailer or rental property.
Modular construction saves time. Since an approved foundation can be laid on site while the rest of the home is being finished in the factory, the total building time is reduced.
Lakeview homeowner Ray Broussard wanted out of temporary housing. The initial estimate for the completion of his modular house was three months. Though, given delays, with subcontractors, utilities hookups, and permitting, it took a total of eight months from the time he ordered his house from the factory until he could move in, Ray didn’t mind the lag. His take on the situation: “Our house didn’t come as quickly as we thought, but it was finished. Not everyone around here can say that.”
By Mark Steffen