Home Tour Offers Ideas for Hurricane-Resistant Gulf Coast Living
September 27, 2007
CAMERON – Rebuild
on piers or a pad? That question was a priority for Pamelia Villa
of Moss Bluff who came to a recent LSU AgCenter Tour of Homes
in Cameron Parish.
had been smashed by two trees blown down during Hurricane Rita.
She rents a mobile home now, a step up from the small trailer
provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
paying a house note, flood insurance and homeowner’s insurance,”
But before building
a new home, she is trying to figure out the best construction
methods and materials.
trying to do it right the first time,” said her mother,
Lollion Elmer, also of Moss Bluff.
Villa asked Carla Richard,
whose new Cameron home was on the Sept. 23 tour, about different
ways of building a home to comply with elevation requirements.
Richard said she preferred
piers because climbing stairs is no different than walking up
a small hill. Richard also had an elevator included in the new
home to make it easier to haul groceries and other items.
Villa said she favors
building on a ground-level foundation, but she’s still considering
Richard and her husband,
Bryon Richard, moved into their home on June 22. It has several
features, in addition to the elevated structure, that help with
its storm resistance. These include an elevated air-conditioning
unit, an unvented attic insulated with sprayed-in foam, short
roof overhangs, impact-resistant windows, vinyl siding and a wind-resistant
nailing pattern on the shingles.
The foundation is made
of 10-inch square, treated wood pilings driven 12 feet into the
ground and wrapped with brick veneer. The bottom of the lowest
horizontal beam is 14 feet, 2 inches above sea level. The home
is only a few hundred yards from the beach. The Gulf of Mexico
and passing shrimp boats can be seen from the elevated front porch.
“This is a very
peaceful place,” Richard said.
The homes of Margaret
Jones at Cameron and the McCall Family of Grand Chenier also were
on the tour. Both have been elevated.
In the Jones home,
the piling foundation consists of 36 10-inch square, treated wood
pilings, each 20 feet long, driven 10 feet into the ground. The
pilings are surrounded by a concrete collar and connected to a
slab with steel reinforcement bars. The foundation includes fiber
cement siding, a standing-seam roof, impact-resistant windows,
fiber cement decking and stairs, and an unvented attic with sprayed-in
The McCall home is
supported by concrete pilings tied together by beams. A grid of
trenches between the pilings was filled with reinforcement bars
and concrete, and the piers are connected to the home with 1-inch
diameter bolts. Also, steel rods connect the foundation to the
top of the walls.
Earl Quarles of Lake
Charles said he was impressed with the homes on the tour.
three beautiful homes that are well-constructed,” he said.
“I’m glad these people are sharing their homes.”
has been repaired from damage caused by the roof being blown away,
he said. Now Quarles wants to build an addition on his home, and
he said the tour gave him some ideas on construction material,
Dr. Claudette Reichel,
LSU AgCenter housing specialist, was stationed at a visitor’s
center on the site of the former AgCenter office. Featured at
the site was a series of drawings displaying the “Chenier
House,” a demonstration home that will replace the local
office of the LSU AgCenter. The home will be a demonstration model
featuring hurricane-resistant construction and energy efficiency.
“It will use
the most cost-effective methods,” Reichel said. “It
will be high-performance and as affordable as possible.”
Reichel said most of
the questions posed Sunday centered around foundation issues and
how to comply with building codes.
One of those who came
looking for advice was Bob Seat of Johnson Bayou, who moved to
the area five years ago after retiring from his job in Indiana.
He said he wants to build a new home similar to the Chenier House.
Seat said he will be
required to build at least 15 feet above ground. He and his wife,
Sherry Seat, currently live in a camper.
“I got some money
from the Road Home program, and I’m getting a little antsy
to get started,” he said.
Giles Gilliam of Lake
Charles and his wife, Helen Gilliam, had a beach house at Gulf
Breeze wiped out by Rita. For now they have a recreational vehicle
at the site, but they came to the tour to get ideas.
I’d like to rebuild,” Gilliam said.
Mike McBride said the
homes on the tour confirmed he’s on the right path by using
concrete piers to rebuild at Holly Beach, in addition to a stronger
“Miss Rita visited
us and left nothing but the pilings,” he said.
Mary Hebert of Bell
City said Hurricane Rita left her family home in Cameron Parish
intact but damaged. She said the family is rebuilding it as a
camp. She stopped by the Jones house to see what ideas she might
incorporate into the reconstruction.
doing it ourselves,” she said.
Dr. Paul Coreil, LSU
AgCenter vice chancellor for extension, said he was impressed
with the tour, and he supports holding similar tours across the
Louisiana coastal parishes.
“I thought the
program was excellent and the homes and homeowners selected were
very effective models for sustainable rebuilding,” he said.
Coreil, who began his
career as an area fisheries agent in Cameron Parish, said he was
encouraged by what he saw. “It gives you hope for a better
future for Cameron Parish.”
Cynthia Richard, LSU
AgCenter housing agent in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes, said
the homes are good examples of hurricane-resistant construction,
highlighting several forms of fortified foundations.
“The tour of
homes was beneficial because we were able to celebrate three families
who have successfully rebuilt and provide hope to those families
who are still in the planning stage.”
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