Cottage Industry

by Amanda Bedgood


Sylvia and Bryan McLain of McLain Homes
Photo by Robin May

A new rental product takes off for local home-building couple._

When home builders venture into rental property it can become a cottage (industry) of a different color.

In pursuit of residual income, Bryan McLain and his wife, Sylvia, of McLain Homes have developed a simple but novel concept — a neighborhood of high-end rental homes on the Youngsville Highway.

The first installment of The Cottages includes 42 units in south Lafayette with amenities comparable to a high-end apartment complex, along with membership perks from free pharmacy and dry cleaning delivery to maintenance of lawns and even air filter changes.

“It’s exclusive membership leasing … all the amenities of owning a home without the difficulties of owning,” Bryan says.

There are three floor plans ranging from 1,000 square feet to nearly 1,300 square feet with prices between $1,495 a month to $1,825 a month and a minimum lease of one year. Each home has 10-foot ceilings with open floor plans, stainless steel appliances and custom tiled showers. The homes have a very Louisiana vibe with colored siding — truly the look of a personal cottage — and the community is gated.

Photo by Robin May

“It’s a very luxurious home and very pet friendly with private fenced backyards,” Bryan says.

The McLains first began toying with the idea three years ago when a development slated for the Youngsville Highway property lost steam.

“We already owned the land, and the economy went south and the bank pulled the loan. We came up with this concept,” Bryan says.

As developers and builders, the McLains lacked a residual income. The first installment of The Cottages was born to see what renters would truly want in such a community and provide that income while staying within what the McLains know how to do — build wellconstructed homes.

The project has proven fruitful, with the homes leasing as fast as they are finished.

“It’s been very diverse [renters]. The first five or six were older people who had sold a larger home and are still very mobile and want their own place but not an apartment. The dynamics are all over the board — divorcees, young couples, people who thought all they had was an apartment for their choices, couples that want to downsize and travel,” Bryan says.

The McLains headed into the first 42-unit project with a group of investors (locals from doctors and lawyers to other professionals McLain declined to name) to test the waters. “A small bite,” he says.

The next bite will be bigger. In the works is The Cottages near Grand Pointe neighborhood off E Broussard Road with 93 units on 10 acres. Now he has his sights set on Houston, Baton Rouge and suburbs of New Orleans from the North Shore to Mandeville for future versions of The Cottages. The more the McLains look for something comparable to The Cottages the more they see an opening for the hybrid living concept.

“We are in research and development now,” Bryan says. “We are looking at supply and demand, and we can grow this strategically and run it efficiently.”