Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing flooding left New Orleans with a significant housing crisis that has not yet been resolved. Rochester, Ind.–based design/build firm Miletus Group, which specializes in prefab and modular systems, has developed a prototype that may help: the Shotgun House Project.
“Katrina’s lasting effects have created a massive housing deficit in New Orleans,” says Miletus president James B. Guthrie, AIA. “This housing dilemma is exacerbated by labor shortages and the high price of available building materials. Our premise was to build high-quality and architecturally sensitive homes off site, away from the stresses of New Orleans’ building environment.”
The model in question is an architecturally sensitive modular shotgun that may come fully intact and ready-for-occupancy or partially unfinished for handy do-it-yourselfers to complete. “[The shotgun] is really an amazing building typology in that the same basic home can be found in every neighborhood of New Orleans, from the richest to the poorest,” Guthrie says. The nice thing about the typology, he adds, is its flexibility because the homes can be built as singles (typically 12 feet wide), doubles (24 feet wide as a duplex), and camel backs (a single or double with a second-floor addition). From these forms, Guthrie adds, there can be many subtle variations.
The first home, which Miletus hopes will achieve a LEED Platinum rating, will be a 24-foot-wide market-rate model on a lot measuring just over 150 feet. Because of this, the firm says it was able to keep with the aesthetic of a traditional single but go a little wider on one side (14 feet), while also having a couple of small rooms (10 feet wide) on the side. The plan can have up to four bedrooms and will measure close to 1,800 square feet.
Costs will vary and will be driven largely by finishes. The shotguns can be built small, simple, and bare bones in the $125 per square foot range, Guthrie says, or big and embellished for an upscale neighborhood, where the cost could go well over $200 per square foot.
“These ingenious modular structures are substantial homes,” Guthrie notes, “fully compliant with current building codes and FEMA standards, offering a sustainable, permanent solution to the current and near-term housing needs of New Orleans.”