Common House Questions
From: Willie Schreurs (
Date: Sat, 14 Jan 95 18:12 CST
   We at Greyrock Commons are just about to move from the conceptual
design for our common house to the next phase and would like input from
those of you who have been living in cohousing to make sure that we do as
good a job as possible.

   The main question I'd like to consider is: if you had the opportunity
to do it over again what would you do differently?  What would you leave
out, what would you put in that you don't have now?  And what would you
NOT change because it works well?

   As a guide for discussion I offer the following questions, as well as
some idea of what we want for our common house:

   - As a key part of the neighborhood we'd like to design a common house
that is really going to be used and would like to hear about both
large-scale issues and the little things that might really make a
difference.  For our 30-household community we have budgeted for a
two-level common house with a footprint of 1500-2000 sq. ft.

   - Are there functions that you can't do (perhaps something was cut due
to budget) that would be valuable?
   - Conversely, if you were trying to save money, what spaces/functions
would you eliminate first?
   - As a prompt for the above two questions, here are some items from our
program: kitchen/dining, entry/mail, bathroom, sitting room, pantry, kid's
play (pre-school/school age), teen room, childcare, office space, laundry,
guest room(s), meeting/music practice room, crafts (wet/dry), sauna/hot
tub, root cellar, study, dark room.

   - For each function, describe:
      - the space where it takes place
      - the character of the space
      - the relationship of that space to other spaces
      - how well does it work in your common house?
      - what would you do differently if you had the chance?
      - how many people use this space?
      - how well do multipurpose spaces work?
   - Are there any rooms you built that you don't use?
   - Any that you use a lot and wish were larger or had more of them?

   - Community meals are a big part of common house use, so:
      - how many meals do you have per week?
      - what is the participation in these meals?
      - how can we make sure that the experience is a pleasant one, with
        high participation, and that the process is neither too
        time-consuming nor burdensome?
      - food storage details
      - meal prep/serving/cleanup -- what works, what doesn't?
      - commercial vs. consumer (eg. stainless steel, large hood)

   - Does *your* common house feel as if it's working?
      - why or why not?
      - how would you make it better?
      - specific answers would help a lot here; eg. if you say "it feels
        institutional," why do you think it feels that way, and what
        ideas do you have for changing it?

   - miscellaneous: lighting (including daylight), ventilation, TV...

   - it might be helpful if you would include some background on your
community as a whole (if you live in one of the communities described in
the "Cohousing" book, it would probably not be necessary to repeat
information which can be found there):
      - number of households
      - how long: design, construction, living there?
      - urban or rural or suburban?
      - underlying themes/values
      - common house (size, # of floors, layout, major functions/spaces)

   Gosh, that's a lot of questions!  Please post to the list if you feel
the discussion would be valuable, and feel free to email me if you wish or
if you have any questions.  If you'd rather talk by phone, please leave
email with your number and the best time(s) to call.  My number is (303)
223-8132 and I'm available weekends (Saturday is better; Sundays are often
taken up with cohousing meetings!) and most evenings until about midnight

   AtDhVaAnNkCsE (Thanks in advance)

 /\  Willie Schreurs               <71500.2232 [at]> /\
//\\  Future Home: Greyrock Commons         Fort Collins, CO  //\\

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