New Orleans Area Habitat explores the future of smaller, more efficient homes.
New Orleans and the rest of the country are experiencing an acute affordable housing crisis. Developers everywhere are searching for answers. The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) estimates that, nationally, 75.1 million households (roughly 60%) are unable to afford a median-priced ($346,577) new home and 40.3% of U.S. households can only afford a home priced $175,000 or less.
A New Orleans area median priced home is $300,004 (61% of 490,967 total residents cannot afford). For every $1,000 price increase, another 735 households are priced out of the market.
The answer, for many, might be living more efficiently in a smaller footprint.
New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity is aggressively exploring the cottage home concept and applications, and during the Covid pandemic constructed its first model cottage home. The home is on display at its New Orleans headquarters on Elysian Fields and has captured the imagination of many passers-by making pickups or drop offs at the adjacent Habitat ReStore.
The awareness of and interest in cottage homes, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and smaller, more efficient homes as solutions to the affordable housing crisis, compounded by inflation, has skyrocketed. According to the market report “Tiny Homes Market by Product and Geography: Forecast and Analysis 2021-2025,” the market will reach $3.3 billion and North America will contribute 58% of global market growth. Cottage houses are widely regarded as the most cost-effective housing option, particularly among millennials.
Demand drivers include the difficulty of young people to buy traditional residences, as well as the need for retired people to maximize their savings, rising property prices, consumer interest in pre-built or custom-built homes, and the rise in housing expenses, along with a growing desire to live in compact, movable dwellings.
New Orleans Habitat Cottage
The New Orleans Habitat model cottage house is aesthetically consistent with New Orleans homes and is priced at $65,000. It was designed and built entirely by the local Habitat team. It is intended for individuals living in areas where these small home designs meet local zoning and planning ordinances. It would be ideal for a hunting or fishing camp, or most any recreational retreat.
The home is 8.5 feet wide by 24 feet long by 13 feet tall and built on a tandem axle trailer. It features a full bath and kitchen with a bedroom loft that will accommodate a queen-size bed and a second loft for an additional twin bed or storage space.
Notable features include:
• Wood construction with Smart LP siding
• Laminate flooring
• 1-ton split system A/C unit
• Tankless hot water system
• Fiberglass stand-up shower
• 30-amp power system
The facts on cottage house affordability and efficiency support the enthusiasm first-time homebuyers and those looking to downsize later in life — or invest in an affordable weekend retreat — have for cottage home living.
On average, a cottage home costs less than one-fifth what a traditional home would cost. The average cost of a built-to-suit cottage house is $59,884. The most luxurious cottage homes top out at $180,000.
About 78% of cottage home dwellers own their home, compared to 65% of traditional home dwellers. Whether they own or rent, 89% of cottage home dwellers have less credit card debt than the average American and 55% have more savings. A cottage home uses about 7% of the energy compared to a traditional house; 85% of cottage homes operate at above-average energy efficiency.
About New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity
New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity is an independent 501(c) 3 nonprofit affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Our mission is to responsibly build communities where families can thrive, in homes they can afford.
Founded in 1983, NOAHH has provided a path to homeownership for over 650 families. Habitat homebuyers pay a zero-interest mortgage and work 250 volunteer hours of sweat equity in lieu of a down payment.
NOAHH has hosted more than 200,000 volunteers who have built homes, cleared blighted properties and made urgently needed repairs for 255 elderly or disabled property owners in need through the A Brush with Kindness program. The affiliate also has two ReStore locations — on Elysian Fields in New Orleans and on Williams Boulevard in Kenner.