Home / News / A Florida Developer Is Building Hurricane

A Florida Developer Is Building Hurricane

Apr 17, 2023Apr 17, 2023

A 750-square-foot home built in a factory may be the answer for some Florida families trying to scrape up the cash to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Ian last year.

Brian Sodre, a lifelong Floridian and the founder of the tiny-home company Miniopolis, is on a mission to make it happen. His products: 500- to 750-square-foot homes that cost between $145,000 and $200,000, about one-third to one-half the cost of the area's average home last year.

Hurricane Ian — the fifth-strongest hurricane to hit the US — ravaged the Gulf Coast city and neighboring communities in September. It swept 5,000 homes away, left tens of thousands more with extensive damage, and killed dozens of people.

Miniopolis is already set to build eight different made-to-order homes in the Fort Myers area. These homes will be built using "structurally insulated paneling," or prefabricated plywood panels that sit between insulating closed-cell foam.

The combination of plywood and foam, Sodre said, eradicates the typical disadvantages of building with wood in a place like Florida: pests, water damage, and general wear and tear. With these materials, the homes are also thoroughly insulated and weather-resistant, he said.

"Everybody's looking for the answer on, 'How can I build cheaper?'" Sodre told Insider. "There have been many unique ideas thrown around that I don't think will last long term, so we're sticking with one that will: prefabricated homes."

In the end, customers get "strong, hurricane-proof" homes that encourage the use of sustainable energy sources and are affordable, according to the Miniopolis website.

Sodre first set up shop in Brevard County but saw an opportunity in Fort Myers, where land was available and homeowners would need to rebuild — but probably with less money than they'd hoped for. It wasn't long after the hurricane that he moved his whole company to the Gulf Coast city from its initial location not far from Disney World.

The extent of the local damage highlighted an insurance crisis long in the making.

Many people who lost their homes have not been able to recover anything near what their properties were once worth, ABC's Tampa Bay news team reported. Because of low insurance payouts, those homeowners have to downsize, Sodre said.

To top it all off: Like many coastal Florida cities, home prices have skyrocketed. The typical home in Fort Myers goes for nearly $397,000, up 16.7% from the same time last year, according to So there is a great need for more affordable housing, and soon.

"The emails that we get daily are unreal," Sodre said, "not only because of the demand of the displaced homeowners, but just the overall need is huge down there."

Read next

helping Fort Myers, Florida, rebuild with plans to can