RE: A cohousing consultant and workshop
From: BARANSKI (BARANSKIVEAMF1.NL.NUWC.NAVY.MIL)
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 93 07:33 CST
  The FIRST Danish communities were build by affluent people.

  Until the entire building industry in this country accepts cohousing as
  something that's actually feasible, it's likely to stay relatively expensive.
  Certainly the banks look at it as "unconventional," which means (to them)
  "risky," and that alone will drive up the financing costs.

This will drive up the cost some, but I think it's more a matter of finding
someone who *will* take the risk, then having to pay a lot more for financing.

On the other hand, finance rates for traditional mortgages are the lowest ever.
I don't know that banks are giving co-housing these same rates.

  Further, why should cohousing be any less expensive to build than
  conventional housing? You have to do all the usual things - buy land, pay for
  professional services from architects, engineers, lawyers, etc. - AND you
  want to build extensive common facilities, AND you want a lot of client
  participation in the design process. 

There should be significant cost savings in economy of scale.  IE you're buying 
tens of acres of land, instead of dozens of partial acre lots;  You're buying
architectural and building services for a dozen homes at a time, usually with
several shared designs, etc.  The participation in the design process *should*
not affect the cost, if it's done properly; it mostly costs the participants
time to hash out details, and slows down the design process some.

*Living* in Co-Housing should be substantially cheaper for the same style of
living, because you share many common facilities.  One lawn mower instead of a
dozen, etc.

All this having been said, I don't particularly think of Co-Housing as a
*cheaper* lifestyle.  I think of it as providing a a *better* lifestyle for the
same cost.

  The "hard-nosed practical approach" is to recognize that there's no magic
  about cohousing with respect to cost. I look at it this way: if a household
  can't afford to buy a conventional house, then it can't afford cohousing. Why
  SHOULDN'T this be true?

   End rant, and I hope I haven't grossly insulted anybody.  I know that
   we've all got different priorities.  It's just that this darned
   stubborn Danish-American believes that there's something in
   Scandinavian cohousing that we would do well to take a hard look
   at; I fear it makes us look, rather deservedly, at the weird ways
   Americans act around class and money issues, and wince.

  Scandanavian cohousing has been around for 20 years now, and has (in some
  cases) government backing. Being fundamentally an optimist, I'd ask you to
  look at the state of U.S. cohousing in another 15 years before you throw
  rocks at it.

I think that there are a lot of issues involved about money, cost, status and
ownership that need to be resolved for people to be happy in co-housing. 
People are different on these issues in the US then Scandanavia.

Jim.

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