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All but two of the now repaired 34 Katrina cottages at the Fields Subdivision on Sixth Avenue in Lake Charles had “subflooring and insulation issues,” according to an audit released Monday. (American Press Archives)<br>

All but two of the now repaired 34 Katrina cottages at the Fields Subdivision on Sixth Avenue in Lake Charles had “subflooring and insulation issues,” according to an audit released Monday. (American Press Archives)

Almost all Katrina cottages in Fields Subdivision had subflooring, insulation trouble

Last Modified: Monday, February 25, 2013 8:57 PM

By John Guidroz / American Press

All but two of the now repaired 34 Katrina cottages at the Fields Subdivision on Sixth Avenue in Lake Charles had “subflooring and insulation issues,” according to an audit released Monday.

The report by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office reviews the $75 million Alternative Housing Pilot Program and the 461 cottages built at 12 sites in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles. Habitat for Humanity, Calcasieu Area Inc. and Project Build a Future were partners in the Lake Charles project that also included 35 cottages at lots scattered throughout Lake Charles. Those units had no reported issues.

The American Press reported in 2011 that “open-cell spray foam insulation trapped moisture from underneath the units in the flooring.” Nicole Miller, executive director of Project Build a Future, said condensation from the metal frames caused more problems at Fields Subdivision.

Miller said her company and Habitat for Humanity filed suit in 2010 against Cypress Realty Partners, the project’s developer, and other subcontractors, including the architect, Looney Ricks/Kiss/LRK. She said the parties reached an undisclosed settlement in December 2011, and the money was used to pay for floor replacement, mold remediation and new “rigid foam” insulation.

“As a taxpayer, what was most disheartening was trying to make right what should’ve been made right before,” she said. “Cypress didn’t do its due diligence to make sure the homes were properly constructed. The insulation was a change order after the fact.”

About 12 units were occupied during the repairs, and those occupants were moved to vacant houses that were already repaired, Miller said. She said all 34 units were repaired, and all 69 units are occupied. The other 35 cottages are being managed by Habitat for Humanity.

Despite the setback, Miller said the extra time helped provide adequate housing for people who could not afford them.

“We worked with them throughout those years to improve their credit,” she said. “Were it not for this giant faux pas, we may not have gotten there. There’s always a rainbow at the end of a storm.”

According to the report, construction on the Fields Subdivision cottages began in April 2009 and finished in December 2009. Work on the cottages at scattered sites started in September 2009 and finished as late as January 2011.

The total square footage cost for the 69 cottages was $10.2 million. Each cottage cost an average of $148,059.

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