Lowe's Makes "Katrina Cottages" Available Nationwide

The small cottages designed to replace FEMA trailers after Hurricane Katrina are popular, so popular that Lowe’s has decided to offer them in their stores.

“We had so many requests that the company decided to make them available nationwide,” said Chris Ahearn, spokeswoman for Lowe’s at the company’s Mooresville, N.C., corporate office, told the Contra Costa Times.

Katrina Cottage plans can be purchased from Lowe’s for $700, with the lowest priced “building kit” starting at $17,000. The kit includes all the materials needed for the construction of the cottage. More upscale customers can choose more upscale finishes.

The cottages are cute and come in a variety of styles and sizes from 1.5-5 bedrooms. Lowe’s says people have been using them as vacation homes, guest houses, and, yes regular homes, too.

The first step toward building a Katrina Cottage is to stop by Lowe’s Project Desk, Porterfield said. After selecting and purchasing a plan, customers are told to find their own contractor and submit blueprints for approval to their local building or planning departments. After they secure local permits, Lowe’s provides the customer with all building materials, from nails to the kitchen sink, which can be delivered to the job site.

Although some say the plans can be made a reality in six weeks, waiting for permits and inspections usually increases the time to several months. Porterfield also made it clear that the homes are not weekend projects.

“These are not designed for a do-it-yourself-er,” he said. “These are made for a licensed contractor.”

Although the base materials packages cost from $17,000 to $36,000, they do not include the foundation, piers, heating and cooling systems, septic or sewer systems, cost of labor or permits.

Would you buy a Katrina Cottage? We have to admit they’re pretty cute… A lot cuter than a FEMA trailer. It’s kinda, you know, creepy though. A little.

Cottage industry: Lowe’s sells ‘Katrina’ home plans [Mercury News]
Lowe’s Katrina Cottages


Edit Your Comment

  1. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    DO WANT!!!

  2. creepshowbabe says:

    hmm…my name is Katrina, maybe I could go in Lowe’s and get a kit for free.
    I did that when a local bar was offering beer mugs with “Katrina” on them, and the date of the hurricane, told them that was my name, showed them my ID, and got one for free. :]

  3. Major-General says:

    Why not?

  4. Kryndis says:

    I’d have to see inside one first, but the picture looks like it would be nice for a vacation home or something like that.

  5. Meg Marco says:

    @speedwell: Right? They’re sorta cute. From death, cuteness?

  6. bluemeep says:

    I couldn’t say for absolute certain without seeing a floor plan, but it looks pretty cozy. Given the right location and situation, I could definitely see living in something like that. Of course, I was always the type for little log cabins and such.

  7. banned says:

    Are these toxic like the trailers too!?

  8. Falconfire says:

    I cant see why not, I have seen apartments in NYC smaller than that go for 5 times the cost to build it.

  9. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Actually, I could not design a house that meets our needs better than the modest, compact, countrified, 3 bedroom, master-suite-with-corner-tub, computer area, big attic storage, simply-designed KC 1185. It’s just what I would design if I dreamed it. I could build it myself. I can actually afford it. Three cheers to Designer Marianne Cusato!!!

  10. bambino says:

    One of the best ways to sell your product is to name it after a huge disaster.

  11. ancientsociety says:

    Why not?

    Heck, it worked for Sears Roebuck 100 years ago.

  12. nweaver says:


    Nice designs actually.

  13. anatak says:

    Cute, yes. Just not big on traditional stick construction.

  14. nweaver says:

    And, yeah, if land where I lived was not so OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive, I’d probably do this in a heartbeat!

  15. dotorg greg says:

    @ancientsociety: ah yes, named after the terrible Sears Roebuck Earthquake of Ought One.

    remember, people, this was designed as an alternative to FEMA trailers which turn out to be not as temporary as people thought; it’s been 15 years, and thousands of people are still living in Hurricane Andrew FEMA trailers.

  16. ancientsociety says:

    @nweaver: Thanks!

    I REALLY like the KC1200 3BD/2BT 2-story. Kind of reminds me of a tiny farmhouse.

  17. bgrigson says:

    Lest you folks forget the great retail giant Sears used to sell homes from their catalogs. I’m not saying that these homes will last as long as the Sears models that are still around today, but the idea of retail shopping for a home is not unheard of.

  18. joeblevins says:

    Does it come with unemployable dirty people too? If so, I’ll take two!

  19. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:


    Actually, some of these plans would be ideal for conversion to a plan using a post-and-beam foundation and structurally-insulated-panel walls. I can even see some of these being built using cheap, sturdy, long-lasting cordwood masonry. They have the necessary simple, square design to make the most of common plywood decking, and straightforward, nonfancy roof lines. The roof pitches are reasonable for most climates, and you can get under the house to fix the utilities if you’re a D-I-Y type. I am.

  20. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:


    Hey, we’re taxpayers. Why did we have to leave it up to profiteering capitalists to design and build decent, modest homes for homeless refugees who lost everything because of a natural disaster, when someone in the government could have passed a law or something for their relief.

    Oooops, guess we’ve already found THAT out.


  21. The small size and wood siding make it look very vulnerable to a hurricane or tornado. (It may be better engineered than it looks, though.)

  22. timmus says:

    I think that dirt-cheap houses are destined to become the next wave, given the way the housing market has gone through the ionosphere. Land is relatively cheap compared to housing. They might not be suitable for a soccer-mom / 3-kid / SUV existence but for a lot of bachelors and older folks, the McMansions and Pulte Cookie Cutters are WAY overkill.

  23. etinterrapax says:

    Love it. I was going to mention the Sears bungalows too. Around here, there’s a severe shortage of small family homes. But the land is so expensive that I can’t see it working unless you already had a lot. Also, most people here have basements, so that’s an additional expense to consider.

  24. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @segfault: Yes, the looks are deceptive. The houses look sturdy and well-engineered. Using plywood sheathing or structural panels adds tremendous bracing to the frame. Column-type foundations, driven several feet into the ground, looks like what they’re using here, is exactly the sort of foundation that pins the house to the ground, and is mandated by code in many hurricane-prone areas (like Galveston, for example).

    Most of the damage caused by wind is not ripping the house literally apart (though I saw that in a tornado in Illinois, not much you can do about it) or tearing off the roof. It’s usually caused by literally twisting a house on its foundation until it collapses (“shear” forces). A short, square, stiff wall and roof resist shear forces much better than fancy long walls that go in and out and roofs with gables and protrusions for the wind to catch.

  25. nweaver says:

    I doubt it is real wood siding, and the claim is 140 MPH wind loading.

  26. hollerhither says:

    Okay, but I like these better (not sold by a retail giant and not affiliated with a natural disaster):


  27. Kurtz says:

    I’ve been working on a project with the State of Mississippi to replace FEMA trailers with these cottages, so I have first hand experience with them. The cottage designs are based on Gulf Coast architecture (for example, the cheaper ones are modelled on shotgun houses). They’re well insulated; I was in one a few weeks ago when it was 95 outside and 73 inside, and that was without the a/c hooked up. And they’re sturdy too – the windows are supposedly designed to resist the impact of a 2×4 at 100 mph. They are very well built for manufactured homes.

    How are the cottages creepy? Am I missing something?

  28. mopar_man says:

    I like the Lowe’s houses. The Tumbleweed houses? Way too small.

  29. ChrisC1234 says:

    Now the interesting thing is that in Hurricane Katrina territory, I myself have never seen ANY of these (however, I haven’t been to the coast near the Mississippi waterfront lately).

  30. I’m really uneasy giving this item the name “katrina cottage”…its kinda disturbing

    that, and buying a “home in a box”…

    v2 of katrina cottage: buy a box the size of a large pallet, bring it to an empty lot, press the big red button and you’re new McMansion unfolds right before your eyes, in under sixty seconds

  31. geeniusatwrok says:


    The Tumbleweed houses are cool too, but pretty damned expensive compared to this one.

    Need a place to put it, tho. Land prices in New England? aaaaahahaha!

  32. k8supergrover says:

    Maybe the creepy comment was because they look a bit stepford…It’s like an entire neighbourhood of cookie cutter houses could spring up in any location.

    Also, whenever people complimented your house you’d have to be like “yeah, sure beats a trailer!”

  33. juri squared says:

    @hollerhither: Dang, you beat me to it! While I don’t know if I could do it, I love the idea of a house small enough to be parked in a parking space.

  34. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @discounteggroll: Not sixty seconds, but how about more like six hours from pallet to shell?


    You basically put them together with a screwdriver. You can face them with stone, and their durability and hurricane resistance is outstanding. The foundation can be temporary (like a wood deck, for example) or permanent. They’re a bit hard to finish out, though, because they are not square.

  35. hollerhither says:

    Yeah, full shameful disclosure: I love the idea, too, but currently I own so many books and kitchen tools that I could probably use them to build my own McMansion…and yet I rent. Someday I’ll learn!

  36. hollerhither says:

    Yep, I hear ‘ya. Fellow New Englander and renter. But we can dream, can’t we?

  37. swalve says:

    What are demographics of the people still displaced by Katrina? Property owners, renters- what?

    The problem with helping the Katrina people isn’t lack of laws, it’s a lack of implementation. Congress could pass a law right now that says everyone in Louisiana gets $1,000,000, but the executive branch has to make it happen…

  38. Pelagius says:

    You know, you don’t have to live like a refugee.

  39. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:


    Great song reference, man. :)

  40. EtherealStrife says:

    No basement for the cold climates and no stucco for the hot? FAIL

    By the time you pay off all the contractors and buy all the supplies you might as well buy a pre-existing home and fix it up. Especially in the areas where the housing market has bombed.

  41. zero_o says:

    These look great, I wouldn’t mind living in one, the rooms are bigger then my condo and I bet that even with nice fixtures and such and land it could be had for a relatively decent price (if you put it together yourself)

  42. mopar_man says:


    Why do you have to have a basement for cold climates? I’ve seen more than my share of slab houses. And since you have to have the foundation done anyway, you can opt for a basement to be done.

    I guess you haven’t endured the fun of a “previously enjoyed” house. I’d pay a little more to have one done from scratch to know everything is right in it.

  43. erika says:

    i think they’re beautiful and would love to live in one. . .

  44. ptkdude says:

    @Kurtz: I was about to post a comment that some of these look like shotgun houses.

  45. A friend of mine is looking at these:

    The Weehouse (check out Stephanie Arado’s which is remarkably beautiful)

  46. backspinner says:

    I think these are lovely and I’d love to live in one. It’s a welcome change of pace after years and years of horrifcally tacky McMansion building. Perhaps this is the beginning of a trend toward simpler and more manageable living. Probably not, though….

  47. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    A superb roundup of innovative and experimental small homes and shelters (some of them are really practical too): [www.fabprefab.com]

  48. jmuskratt says:

    Does anyone else see the irony here in the “style” of the houses? Many of the homes that these are intended to replace were built in the 20’s from Sears and Aladdin kits. The more things change…

    Look at KC697 and tell me that isn’t a Craftsman bungalow lookalike? :)

    It’s also a neat concept to think the creole shotgun style, once unique to New Orleans, will be exported around the country. Just like my friends and neighbors.

  49. RebekahSue says:

    A guy on the Next Amrican Inventor show didn’t win but had an idea for an indestructible home. I’d prefer to hold out for that… though THESE arre more within my budget (sans the land). I’d rather see parks of these than trailers – no offense to anyone who lives in a trailer park. (my only trailer park views have been in connecticut, and the one on Roseanne)

  50. kaikhor says:

    My question is that will it last as long as my grandparents Sears House (built back in the 1940’s)?

  51. JustAGuy2 says:


    Yes, you can get one, but first you have to “blow” everyone at the store – in honor of the hurricane, of course. ;)

  52. lestat730 says:

    I’d definitely get one. Looks like a great option for newly weds to.

  53. LionMan says:

    The market for manufactured homes has really changed lately. Anymore, its not just the old aluminium sided trailers. My next door neighbors got one a year ago and it looks very nice (now they just need to destroy the old house which should have been destroyed years ago). The new house doesn’t look at all like the classic trailer and you wouldn’t know it was pre-built. This is always a way to go for if you’re looking for a new house. I have no clue though what the price range is.

  54. MotherFury says:

    I’ll take a two bedroom, two bathroom, no grown children allowed to move back home model, please. Thank you.

  55. Anonymous says:

    I think it looks fantastic.

    This might be my first home.

  56. Sudonum says:

    In regards to the cost, as others have stated there are a few numbers missing:
    These are based on costs for a 1400 sf house in south Louisiana

    Lot – $25000 and up
    Foundation – $12000
    Framing labor – $7500
    Exterior siding labor – $4000
    Plumbing labor – $6000
    Electrical labor – $6000
    HVAC labor/matl – $7500
    Roofing labor – $3000
    Drywall install/finish – $6000

    Thats another $77k, and we still haven’t put any finishes on the interior or painted the exterior. You’re also going to need sidewalks driveways, landscaping and sod. Still fairly cheap for home ownership, but not something that every evacuee can afford.

  57. Trackback says:

    To borrow a phrase from our well-fed friends over at Eater, you do hate to see that. Photo via Flickr/heidiologies.

  58. bohemian says:

    The one in the picture is rather cool. Would make an ideal lake house if I could still find lake land that is not more expensive than my existing house.

    I love the classic architecture features.

  59. timd1969 says:

    It’s funny that Lowe’s has been able to get the same look and feel as Seaside, Florida for under $100K. Good for them.

  60. EtherealStrife says:

    @mopar_man: Frozen piping? Dunno, I’ve just never stayed in a place that gets snow and has not had one. I personally have never lived in a place with a basement, so I can’t say why there’s such an obsession with them. Hurricanes and tornadoes I suspect. And yes my house is preowned and wonderful (new costs a mil+ and no yards :-), so perhaps you should try doing a little more homework before your next preowned home purchase. Have multiple inspections before putting any money down, and get the current owners to correct any problem areas.
    The only change made to mine was to put in grass — the previous owner had this fugly desert landscaping.

    I would still like to see a model that forgoes the paneling. :) And the ones on the Lowe’s site all have a fairly cookie cutter look, just a step above a trailer. I think I’d go yurt before that! (thanks for the link, speedwell)

  61. Chicago7 says:

    You could buy a few shipping containers and make some nice configurations. They had a display of artists creating housing based on shipping containers and it was sweet.

  62. eli_b says:

    @Chicago7: I’ve been researching those, I really want to build one. On a side note, is lowes contributing any money to katrina repair efforts as part of this?

  63. Kornkob says:

    @mopar_man: Why do you have to have a basement for cold climates?

    A slab house in a cold climate is a PITA to heat in the winter. A basement with as little exterior exposure as possible can slash winter heating requirements in a big way.

    *shrug* I like the design. If I wasn’t reasonably happy with the house I’ve got I might buy the plans and slap it on a house with a full basement.

  64. Noah_Bodie says:

    I daresay there’s any number of people living in double wides, single wides, trailers, et al. who’d love to have one of these.

  65. MrEvil says:

    If my house burned to the ground or got leveled by a Tornado….I’d buy one. It’d work great for me because my dad and I have a decent sized farm with a 10 acre tract that we can’t use (it’s not contiguous to the rest of the place). The bitch would be paying to drill a well. Power and telephone are a non-issue. Shoot, if we could keep the place occupied we’d probably put one up out there anyway.

  66. OnceWasCool says:

    ANYTHING to replace trailers (PC Term Mobile Homes) would be great. I live in the south and trailers are the biggest mistake to hit the housing market. They should be banned!

    Maybe this little house could do it, and wouldn’t look so trashy.

  67. Allenxt says:

    Now this is a cool idea… buying homes in

  68. Allenxt says:

    Now this is a cool idea… buying homes in stores.. just shows how far the art of construction has come… I wonder what the sales numbers for these suckers are….

    A link to these things on the lowes website:

  69. Pixel says:

    Dude! Go Lowes! I’ve loved the design and concept of these since I first heard of them. More room than a FEMA trailer, More durable and permanent. Cat 5 hurricane resistance. And cheaper than a trailer.

    I’ve been looking at buying a house, and haven’t found anything with the space I need in a price I can afford that wasn’t in terrible shape and/or in a terrible neighborhood.

    Now I’m very VERY interested in seeing if I can find a plot of land and put one of these up. Even with land, basement, & contractor costs, I’d probably come out in the same price range (or possibly less) then the shacks I’ve been looking at. Possibly even by enough to put up a nice big garage for my toys…

  70. OnceWasCool says:

    Just a thought, if you stop selling trailers, who is going to buy all that Avon and Mary Kay? :)

  71. Flackette Goes Retro says:

    I really like this. I’m assuming if it’s hurricane-resistant it might also be somewhat able to stand up to the tornadic activity we’re prone to around here. Of course you’ve got to be able to afford the land, but a parcel of land in a rural area is pretty durn cheap. Very cool.

  72. CCBC says:

    Creepy? More creepy than, say, mobile homes? This is really an old idea. Sears Roebuck used to sell house kits [www.searsarchives.com] Thomas Edison tried to market prefab houses using formed concrete [www.americanheritage.com] Surviving examples of both Sears and Edison homes still look pretty good. Why would you think this creepy?

  73. JC1 says:

    I totally disagree with this type of construction in a hurricane zone. All construction within 50 miles of the Gulf Coast and the Florida Atlantic coast should be concrete block. All roofs should be low pitch hip roof design. High pitch gable roofing provides large amounts of surface area that are exposed to winds. Also, the use of wood in general should be reduced or eliminated due to moisture and termites.

  74. karenscave says:

    Since I’m living with a man dealing with Major Deppression, Anger Management problems, and Paranoid Personality Disorder, who has told me to “Find a new place to live”, I find the Katrina Houses great. Maybe I can afford one. 1000 square feet is sounding pretty good….and safe.

  75. v-co says:

    Does anyone living in Ms or La have any final numbers on putting up one of these, excluding landscaping?

  76. vjfronk says:

    i think all of this is great but i do have a fiew concerns that if not adressed will distroy someones idea of afordable houseing.the tumbleweed house is nice but i can gurente you that i can build one for far less then $46,000. just go to lowes or home depot and price sinks ,green bord, toylets excet-materiels that will work just fine ,,not the materiels there useing .and youl see how mutch youl save. then theres the issue for zoneing..in florida you need 5 acers for a mobil home .at the price of land thats not gonna cut it either..you need a place thats zoned for small houses,not trailers.and on property you can own ,a lot, not 5 acers.someting one person could pay off in a fiew years.so all your paying for is utilitys and taxes. OR DOES THAT MAKE TOO MUTCH SCENCE? and yes some ones not getting rich off of you, but thats how we arived at this problem to begin with..