Re: site advice
From: David L. Mandel (
Date: Tue, 2 May 95 02:28 CDT
Some replies to Wynne Rae Maggi of Lake Clair (where's that, Wynne?). I'm 
putting this on the general forum because some (particularly No. 1) may well 
be of interest to others, too.

>1)  We plan to use crushed gravel ("crush and run") on courtyard and 
>paths, then perhaps later come back over them with brick pavers and/or 
>fieldstone.  Any experience with this?

        We originally decided to use what was described to us as "decomposed 
granite" for our paths, mostly, I think, because of a knee-jerk aversion to 
concrete. But we were talked out of it before it was too late, for at least 
three reasons that I can recall: 1) Turned out it would have been even more 
expensive than concrete; 2) People with experience warned us that it would 
make our homes' insides a lot more dirty, especially on rainy days; 3) Our one
wheelchair-using resident (and other visitors or future residents) would have 
had a much harder time getting around.
        So we decided on concrete, and it's really not bad. It's easy to 
sweep, too. Some advice to make it nicer: Keep the paths only as wide as they 
need to be. We learned from what we didn't like at Muir Commons -- wide swaths
of concrete -- and kept ours narrower. Also, dress it up at appropriate spots:
We have bricks edging our concrete front stair stoops (I suspect they have a 
functional purpose too); and we have colored concrete squares instead of plain
concrete on the common house patio and behind the common house in our alley. 
Finally, to show we were proud of our concrete, we left a final square section
unfinished for a while and finally got around to pouring it and decorating it 
with most members' hand or paw prints.

>2) We'd like to have a couple of simple fountains or pools but are 
>concerned about small children drowning. Any suggestions?

        Get lots of insurance. ... Seriously, it's probably a very bad idea 
for the same reasons that occurred to you. Your local building code probably 
wouldn't allow it either, I'd guess.  

>3)Our community will have 12 units in a tight urban space.  There will be 
>courtyards, but the common land is minimal.  Any comparables out there?  
>How much do you pay for watering, plant materials, etc?

        For building in a tight urban space, I strongly suggest you read the 
chapter on our project in the second edition of Cohousing (the book); and for 
a more detailed discussion of that very issue, borrow our slide show. It 
focuses on how we designed our 25 units on 1.3 acres downtown for a 
combination of internal cohesion and security with openness toward the 
surrounding neighborhood. Contact me by e-mail, or better, by phone to arrange
for it. We ask a small donation to cover costs. I could get you numbers on 
what we pay for water and what our initial and ongoing landscaping budgets 
are, but I doubt they'd be particularly relevant to your situation, depending 
on your size, shape, climate, etc. I will find it if you wish, however.

Good luck, and you can contact me at the e-mail address in the header of at 
(916) 446-5066, late evenings best.

David Mandel, Southside Park Cohousing, Sacramento 


Lake Clair Co-Housing

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