Re: Common House Questions
From: Deborah Behrens (debbehAuto-trol.COM)
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 95 14:36 CST
> Willie Schreurs writes:
>    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?

Highline Crossing will be a community of 36 units on 3.6 acres, still being
built.  We hope to start moving in to the first buildings in Mar/Apr.  
The Common House is already somewhat usable, tho not finished.  

Our Common House first floor will include kitchen/dining/pantry, entry/mail,
bathroom, sitting room, daycare.  The dining room will include a (hopefully)
quiet alcove with TV storage (a bit contradictory, but that's where it fit).

Our basement includes laundry, bathroom, mechanical room, 
and eventually guest, exercise, teen, office areas, 
as well as probably some sorts of meeting and crafts areas.  (~4000sf/floor)
There's also a crawl space that a couple people think will make a good brewery.

We also plan/dream, down the road to have an outside hottub, as well as 
greenhouse/workshop/craft shop, community gardens, etc.

we haven't moved in yet, and our common house isn't completely finished, but
a few problems have already cropped up.  

1       if you're planning on putting refrigerator or freezer in an
enclosed pantry, it WILL need an exhaust fan - by the time we realized
this (with the advice of N Street) it was too late to add.  

2       Then you also don't want to store cleaning stuff like mops,etc 
in there, cause you can't get rid of the stink - a separate janitor 
closet for hazardous chem storage would be safer, to keep from kids.

3       Translating design details to the plan:  If there are specific
details, such as non standard backsplashes on kitchen counters, etc, 
need to make that really clear for the subcontractors.  We didn't.  Chuck 
pointed out items that differed from his design while they were here 
over the holidays.

4       We may have got too much carpet and not enough vinyl in the daycare -
we could have extended the vinyl to the exit door - the carpet there will be
very difficult to keep clean with the kids running in and out.

5       Separate the dining room lights into more circuits for more
flexibility, dimmers where ever possible. (if incandescent/halogen)
We did alot of track lighting, and may wish we'd done even more.

6       Don't forget storage - enough for all the extra
tables/chairs, as well as caselots of things that you may buy in bulk,
such as TP, lightbulbs, etc.  Caselots could go in the basement, but
you don't want to lug tables/chairs up and down stairs.  We didn't 
do enuf storage (we have no main level storage except the pantry)

7       Make sure you know the mailbox dimensions/requirements early -
our entry windows were placed too low for optimum placement of the
mailboxes and we had to fudge.

8       We were very ambitious in our plans for sweat equity, expecting
to do much of the landscaping as well as the common house interior finish.
After realizing how long it was taking just to paint a couple rooms in
the common house, we've had to scale down what we can realistically do
ourselves, and correspondingly scale up the cost of hiring out much of
particularly the heavy duty landscaping.  We don't have full costs yet, 
and we're already over budget, particularly on landscaping.
We've been restricted by our lenders, into some tight landscaping deadlines,
and by the city into extensive landscaping, so we're somewhat caught in the
middle.  We've also had varying degrees of quality on the sweat equity 
work, which is to be expected, but can be a problem when some peoples 
expectations on results may be higher than others.

9       Even if you hope to buy used equipment, or find alternative (less
expensive) vendors to do some of the work, budget the full price, because
if you can't find the used equipment, or there just aren't any decent low
priced vendors/contractors, you're stuck.  We've gotten bit on that with
kitchen appliances (stove, in particular) and carpet installation.  It 
could be really difficult to find subcontractor prices lower than 
what your contractor can get. 
(And between the time you create the budgets and you actually
buy the stuff, prices are going to go up).

10      Shop around on lighting.  We found substantially different pricing
(10-25% differences) even between two stores owned by the same company, 
and even with the contractor discount.  
Of course we also have an incompetent sales person who couldn't keep track of 
the pricing he quotes us from one community member to the next (or from one 
day to the next) - no standardization.

11      Parking has become sticky. even tho we 'budgetted' almost 2 spaces
per unit, getting the garages built and assigned has been a problem.  Costs
for the garages need to be included in the construction loans, or paid for
in advance.  (See 12)

12      Our contractor's rep has said that if anyone wants changes to their 
plans, we should have had them pay for the changes 100% up front, because 
the construction loan doesn't include monies for those changes, and that 
can cause a cash flow problem during construction.  We have not done that,
and we (actually the contractor) have had a cash flow problem.

13      One thing our contractor did that worked out pretty well has been
providing a Contract Book, specifying the details of our contract.  Generally
the only problems have been little details that were not available at
the time of contract signing, such as kitchen elevations and some changes
that were made to the standard plans.  We got contract books on each of
our units, and on the Common House.  The Common House, not being a 'standard
plan' tho, has had alot more grey (unspecified) areas - insufficient details.

A lot of your questions we'll have to wait to answer till we've been living
there for a while.  Good luck on your common house.

                            (0 0)
 |  Debbie Behrens              debbeh [at]   (303)252-2215 |
 |  Highline Crossing CoHousing                        (303)457-4184 |
 |      All opinions expressed are mine, and do not necessarily      |
 |       reflect the opinions of Highline Crossing in general.       |

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