Katrina says: “Less is More”

The minimal Katrina cottages are appealing to many that weren’t the target demographic at all. Many are discovering that they don’t want a McMansion, or anything even close to it, and are very happy to have something that is small, well designed and not too expensive to heat, and capable of fitting on a small site, too.

A stylish cottage for Katrina country is a hit all over
By Ron Scherer | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

OCEAN SPRINGS, MISS. A model home here that gives Katrina’s displaced an alternative to trailer living is starting to take the country by storm.

The Katrina cottage – with living quarters about the size of a McMansion bathroom – is now appealing to people well beyond the flood plain. Californians want to build one in their backyards to use for rental income to help with the mortgage payment. Modestly paid kayakers in Colorado see it as a way to finally afford a house. Elsewhere, people envision building one so a parent can live nearby.

Flying in the face of a “big house” trend, designers of these tiny abodes seem to have found a new housing niche. Some experts cite an interest by some Americans in downsizing their habitats, a reaction to the supersized home, and note the challenge of heating and cooling a big house at a time when family budgets are flat. Others note that changing demographics – more empty-nesters and single adults – may mean a timely debut of the Lilliputian homes.

The “Lowe’s Katrina Cottage” offerings range from a two-bedroom, 544-square-foot model to a three-bedroom, 936-square-foot house. The cottages will cost $45 to $55 per square foot to build, Lowe’s estimates, meaning the smallest would run about $27,200 and the largest $46,800. Estimates do not include the cost of the foundation, heating and cooling, and labor.

“We’re starting on the Gulf Coast, where the original idea came from, but as soon as we feel the logistics are worked out we could go national,” says Ms. Cusato, whose website, http://www.cusatocottages.com, has received more than 7,000 inquiries since January. “We want to be sure that when we say it’s available, we’re 100 percent sure we can deliver.”

What’s interesting here is that these Katrina cottages are so different from what everyone else is building that we are seeing the beginning of a whole new market segment. It’s every bit as revolutionary as the mini-van, when it came out. In this new market it is design, rather than amount of materials, that will be the differentiating factor. It’s another data point in the de-materialization of the economy, and as the competition here heats up, it will cannibalize other market segments, which will accelerate the de-materialization process. In the current down market, it’s entirely possible that this new value-driven product will achieve a quite rapid penetration, in many different regions.

See the related post: Globalization de-materialized in 176 clicks

Katrina says: “Less is More”

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