Why not?
From: Jerry Callen (jcallenThink.COM)
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 93 16:38 CST
   Date: Fri, 12 Nov 93 16:11 CST
   From: Trey Wedge <trey [at] hpperf1.cup.hp.com>

        My <naive> impression was that the attraction of co-housing is
        economy. If the only attraction is community, why aren't people
        doing the same kind of community planning in conventional 
        housing? There is nothing stopping people from building a 
        neighborhood in the same way that they build a cohousing 
        community, and they would have none of the disadvantages. 
        For that matter, what are the advantages of cohousing that are
        unavailable in conventional housing? 

Um. It's hard to summarize in a few paragraphs, the thing to do is read
"Cohousing: An innovative approach to housing ourselves" by McCamant and
Durrett. There are serious obstacles to building cohousing as conventional
housing; a few are:

- Zoning: cohousing wants to be more tightly clustered than many zoning
  codes will allow. (This is a ROYAL pain here in eastern Massachusetts.)

- Keeping cars out: banks and conventional developers are very leary of
  building housing that doesn't have attached parking. (They're concerned
  about the resale value.)

- How do you finance common facilities? How do you know what common
  facilities to build if you don't have the group of buyers lined up first?

        My impressions of the economies in cohousing are:   

         1. No developer profit.

True, if the cohousing group doesn't use a developer. Some do, some don't.
And unless the group has a lot of in-group expertise (such as a Chris
Hanson), you STILL need some sort of project management, which isn't free.

         2. Common use items shared instead of duplicated.
         3. Common areas shared amoung a larger number of people
            reducing the per person cost.
         4. Resources analyzed for community use more carefully. 

These three are variations on a theme, no? They are true, but in the cost
models our group ran, they just don't add up to a lot in terms of cost to
build. They may represent substantial savings in operating costs, though.

         5. Any others?

If the group elects to build a limited number of unit types, there can be
an economy of scale because the builder is building many copies of
essentially the same unit, if the community is large enough. And if the
group is willing/able to build

        So, if there is no economy in this approach, again, why do it?

Becuse it's a radically different lifestyle. I've never lived in a
neighborhood that was anywhere nearly as close-knit as cohousing. It
represents a form of community somewhere in-between a regular neighborhood
and group houses. Having lived in both (and a lot of variations), cohousing
looks about right for me.

-- Jerry Callen

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