LAFAYETTE — A fire destroyed the Carver Street home of Louida Fuselier in 2008.
“I lost everything,” Fuselier said Wednesday. “That knocked a lot out of me. It was very hard. I didn’t know what to do. I was shocked for words.”
What little was salvageable will be incorporated into a new home for Fuselier.
There’s a kitchen door that will now be used as the side entryway to a small porch area. Cedar siding will be used in Fuselier’s new prayer room, and recovered wooden beams will be used to build her front porch.
The home was designed by University of Louisiana at Lafayette architecture and design graduate students through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
The design is “unlike anything we’ve ever built before” in that it’s a deviation from the standard local Habitat cottages, said Melinda Taylor, executive director of Lafayette Habitat for Humanity.
Traditional habitat homes have cost $80,000 to $85,000, and Taylor said this one should fall within that range.
Though with similar square footage — 950 square feet — Fuselier’s home design incorporates sustainable or “green” building practices through use of solar power panels, passive ventilation and recycled materials.
The exterior design is more modern than the traditional cottages and adds more volume with 13-plus-foot vaulted ceilings in some parts of the house to capitalize on the area, Taylor said.
Some goals of the project were to reduce energy costs and reduce construction time and waste, said Geoff Gjertson, a ULL associate professor of architecture.
Student designers minimized the use of traditional construction materials such as drywall and gypsum in favor of exposed plywood for interior walls, said Matt Heidel, one of the six ULL graduate architecture students who worked on the home’s design team.
The home will have a metal roof to reflect sunlight, but also to eliminate the need and expense for Fuselier to have the roof reshingled, said Max Nochez, another student design team member.
Hardie board will be used on the exterior of the home, Nochez said.
Solar panels, donated by Louisiana Solar Solutions, and energy-efficient appliances will help reduce energy costs for Fuselier, Gjertson said.
Designers anticipate that the home will receive National Association of Homebuilder’s Model Green Home Building certification.
The partnership capitalizes on the university’s experience with affordable, sustainable housing construction. In 2009, the university participated in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, a collegiate design-build competition of affordable, solar-powered homes.
Work on Fuselier’s home will soon begin.
Fuselier’s home is sponsored by the Realtor Association of Acadiana in partnership with the Acadiana Home Builders Association’s Professional Women in Building group and Fuselier’s church parish, Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church.
Taylor said the project will serve as a “learning lab” with a goal of repeating the design at other sites.
“It’s our test kitchen for this project,” she said of Fuselier’s house. “We hope to learn things from this and bring it to other lots.”
For Fuselier, the experiment is a “blessing.”
The “remembrances” from the home where her family had lived since the late ’60s brings her comfort, Fuselier said.
“I feel so close to my family there,” she said.