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Rachel Friedberg didn’t set out to design two houses in two years. But just weeks after finishing a remodel of the three-bedroom Louisville home that she and her husband, Michael, bought in early 2020, it was leveled in the Marshall fire. The Friedbergs, like hundreds of other families, lost everything.
The couple immediately decided to rebuild, and Rachel went back to the drawing board. Because the Friedbergs were underinsured, their insurance settlement won’t cover the cost of erecting a comparable, new single-family home, so they’re designing a less expensive, two-story duplex with the help of Studio Shed, a Louisville-based company that builds modern, prefabricated structures. The duplex is intended to be a temporary fix with long-lasting benefits: It will occupy a portion of the couple’s triangle-shaped lot and act as the Friedbergs’ provisional residence while they dream up plans for a main home on the property. In the future, it can become a short-term rental.
“Homes are costing a lot more to rebuild. We’re here to help shepherd folks back into their properties, into a home, as quickly as possible,” says Mike Koenig, president and co-founder of Studio Shed, which is offering housing options at a discounted rate to victims of the Marshall fire. Studio Shed’s modular homes fit together like Legos and can be designed, manufactured, and installed in weeks, though the permit process typically takes longer. The Friedbergs will be able to return to their neighborhood early this year. More than anything, working with Studio Shed has provided a quick way home, Rachel says.
Through the process of designing their two-story, 1,800-square-foot temporary home—each floor will include two bedrooms, two bathrooms, Marvin Essential windows and sliding glass doors, double-pane fiberglass Therma-Tru entry doors, and customized finishes—the Friedbergs are finding joy and healing. “The way we’ve navigated that recovery is by spending less time thinking about what we lost,” Michael says, “and more time focused on what we can build.”
The Friedbergs’ duplex is a first for Studio Shed, which typically focuses on backyard studios and ADUs (priced from $35,000 to more than $300,000). The company tripled its production capacity in the fall, and Koenig says a new Studio Home line of larger dwellings is scheduled to debut this year.