Local Architects Say They're Busier Than Ever

Every house, condo or business that is built starts with a plan. The people with the vision and talent to draw up the blueprints for our future find themselves with very little free time in this post-Katrina world.

Rickey Ladner has designed homes part-time for 22 years. Since Katrina, it's become full time work.

"It's been busy, it's been real busy. We've had anywhere from five, six calls a day [from] people wanting to get their house plans drawn or remodel jobs. That's the majority of things right now," Ladner said.

Architect Edward Wikoff's talent for designing homes and commercial buildings is also in high demand.

"Looking forward to being busy for the next five to ten years. This is going to be a long term recovery in terms of new construction," Wikoff said.

One common request of both architects is designing better hurricane protection for new homes.

"I just got finished designing a house two weeks ago. They wanted the more Floridian/Bahamas style with those type shutters. Not a flat roof but a flatter pitched roof, metal roof," Ladner said.

"There are things that need to be done in order to withstand these higher wind speeds that we're dealing with. Of course, the amount of water that we had in Bay St. Louis and Waveland, there isn't a whole lot you can do to withstand the kind of storm surge that we had here, but we are trying to do the best that we can," Wikoff said.

And they're working as fast as they can.

"I'm getting a lot of calls. They say, 'How fast can you turn it out? I need them tomorrow.' That's hard when you're designing a house, especially custom designing houses. It maybe four to five weeks," Ladner said.

Like everything else these days, designing a new home takes time and patience.

by Al Showers