Making CoHousing Affordable
From: BPaiss (
Date: Wed, 7 Dec 94 12:57 CST

I have been following the affordibility thread for the past week and wanted
to add my nickle's worth.

I want to address the philosophical headbanging between coho resident's
desire for small affordable homes and the difficulties of making it happen
within the existing system.

One suggestion I would make to all groups in the early stages of site
selection and site design is to create a close relationship with your local
FIRE CHEIF and APPRAISOR.  These two people will have a LARGE impact on the
final look and cost of your community.  As it relates to affordibility, the
number of units you are allowed to put on your site, the degree of
clustering, the widths of roads the distance from roads and homes are heavily
influenced by the comfort of the fire cheif.

Appraisors all have a thick book of federal regulations that they must use to
determine the value of your homes.  For the most part these people have never
heard of CoHousing and have to use comparables when coming up with a value on
your home.  Smaller homes create smaller value and make the task of finding
comparables even more difficult.  Throw a common house into the equation and
it gets even more difficult.  They simply don't know how to "value" the
common facilities as anything other than a condo clubhouse.

To make things even worse, as you shrink the sizes of the homes, the per
square foot cost rises since only about half of the costs of building a home
are in the sticks and bricks.  This often makes the costs of these homes even
more out of line with other homes in the area.  One suggestion is to reduce
the cost of common facilities which from my experience is the last thing a
group wants to do.

Finally, since apprasiors need comparables to value your homes, you might
think carefully about which homes you are going to close on first.  As soon
as a home sells in your community it can then be used as a comparable for
future home value.  

Hope this has been helpful and I look forward to further dicsussion.

In Community,

Bill Paiss
bpaiss [at]                         "If I can't dance I don't want to 
your revolution."  

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