Johnny Morgan, Reichel, Claudette Hanks
BATON ROUGE, La. – Those in the process of building a new home or making improvements to an existing one received valuable information from staff of the LSU AgCenter LaHouse Home and Landscape Resource Center at a recent open house.
LSU AgCenter housing specialist Claudette Reichel led tours and showed cost-saving features to those attending the seasonal open house on April 26. LaHouse opens on a Saturday each season to provide guided tours and explain the features of the house.
The LaHouse facility on the LSU Baton Rouge campus is home to a research-based, educational outreach program that has become a showcase for durable, hurricane-resistant construction materials and techniques.
“LaHouse was built and furnished with donated labor and materials and was under construction when Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana in 2005,” Reichel said.
The house is built with cutaway features so visitors can see what’s behind walls. “And they can go into the attic to see the energy-efficient heating and air conditioning system, along with the strapping that makes the house hurricane resistant,” Reichel said.
Michelle Dry and her husband, Chris, from Denham Springs said they attended the open house because they are planning to build a new home and want to learn as much as they can before making the investment.
“We really came for ideas – cost-efficient and energy-efficient ideas mostly,” she said. “The two things that really impressed me were the safe room and the access to the back of the entertainment center from underneath the stairs, so you don’t have wires hanging out from everywhere.”
LaHouse is open daily Monday-Friday during the year, but is closed on weekends, which is the only time some people can come by to tour the house. So Reichel and her staff offer four weekend open houses – one in each season to make it available for those who may work during the regular operating hours.
“In April for the spring event, we talk about summertime energy efficiency, energy-saving improvements to be able to keep cool, moisture control to keep your house dry and termite resistance,” she said. “Summer open house is in July, and we focus on hurricane and flood resistance. In October, the fall discussion is on health issues like indoor air quality, and in January, the winter discussion is on winter energy-savings and how to keep warm.”
Reichel said LaHouse is now being promoted to tourism audiences. This will extend the reach further into the region and beyond the local area that was the focus in past years.
“It’s still a technical resource for people who are planning to remodel or build, but it is also an interesting, interactive exhibit, like a science museum where people can learn things,” Reichel said.
The theme for LaHouse is “Explore, Learn and Benefit,” which means what visitors learn here is not just interesting and fun, but they can bring back new knowledge and discoveries to make their own homes more comfortable, more energy-saving and a better investment, she said.
“Other demonstration homes and exhibit homes focus on specific issues, but I don’t know of another home that has as much as we have here,” Reichel said. “LaHouse is unique in that it was built with four high-performance building systems that is a showcase of solutions that integrate all of those areas.”
The next open house at LaHouse will held on July 19.
LaHouse is open for self-guided tours from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is located at 2858 Gourrier Ave. in Baton Rouge, directly across from Alex Box Baseball Stadium south of the LSU campus.
Extensive publications and a reference library are also available to LaHouse visitors. A suggested donation of $5 per adult is requested to help support educational exhibits and operations. For more information, visit www.lsuagcenter.com/LaHouse or call 225-578-7913.