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Thousands tour modular open house Lakeview home built in 7 weeks

The Times-Picayune , www.nola.com - September 04, 2006

At the open house for the new, yellow two-story home in Lakeview, the curious opened closet doors and kitchen cabinets, peered into bedrooms and bathrooms and looked up at the high ceilings.

But what set apart the open house at 5915 West End Blvd. and drew thousands over the weekend was that it showcased a modular home erected in only seven weeks.

Modular homes, built in a factory by sections and assembled onsite, offer a relatively quick approach to home-building. The company that built the West End house, New Era Homes, aims to appeal to post-Katrina buyers who don't want to take on the months-long effort involved in the traditional approach to rebuilding.

Visitors to the West End house wanted to know things like what appliances come with the house and how long it takes for a home like it to be built, as well as cost and square footage.

Some were in the market for a new house while others came out of curiosity. Most marveled that the house looked "stick-built," or built the old-fashioned way, rather than pre-made in a Austin, Texas, factory.

The open house traffic was constant and Tom Gordy, president of New Era, said the number of visitors exceeded his expectations.

"It's been phenomenal," Gordy said Sunday. "We probably had 3,000 to 4,000 people yesterday and probably will have that many today."

Lucky Dog vendor Nick Marciante, who served free hot dogs, didn't expect so many visitors, either. He ran out of his supply of 300 hot dogs after two hours Saturday. Undaunted, he returned Sunday and by mid-afternoon had handed out 600 hot dogs and was still going strong.

Among the visitors Sunday were Mid-City residents Pat and Lloyd Aucoin, who said they watched workers put the house together each day en route to Aucoin's job and "wondered what it would look like at finish," he said. "It's just incredible," he said.

The couple lived in the Lakeview area for 25 years before moving to Mid-City. Their house had water and roof damage during Hurricane Katrina and is undergoing renovations.

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