Common House size, budget, etc
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2000 21:55:43 -0700 (MST)
RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend WA
Common House is partially built, under construction, now has walls, roof, 
windows, and interior wall framing, starting rough in plumbing and 
electrical. Should be in use sometime this summer.
We are 20 families, will be 24 at full build out. 
Relatively few children, though we hope for more. 
Fairly large homes, with some as small as 800-1000 sq ft, but several at 
2400-2800 sq ft, individually designed and built. 
15 built and occupied, 5 in design or construction, 2 waiting for Habitat 
for Humanity construction, 2 for sale.  

CH is 2800 sq ft
Make three squares, about 30x30, and arrange them in an L shape, and you 
have the overall layout. One story, flat site. Fairly plain, economical 
Entry porch, foyer, and hall. Side hall to two bathrooms, large rec room. 
Kid room off front hall near great room (dining room), which is about 
30x30. Kitchen and pantry. 

Overall budget is around $292,000, minus about $15,000 we hope to avoid 
by having sufficient volunteerism. This includes money for kitchen 
appliances and basic furnishings.
Doesn't include landscaping, which is separately funded by a gift of 

I would be glad to share our plans. 
We did almost all the planning ourselves. 
If you can afford an architect, I highly recommend Mary Kraus of Pioneer 
Valley Cohousing, Amherst, Mass. The help we commissioned from her was 
very valuable, and she was articulate, friendly, and has first-hand 
information as a resident of cohousing herself. The Pioneer Valley common 
house was the site of the National Conference, and was very comfortable 
and functional. 

We are constructing with Rastra Block (aka EnerGrid), which is blocks of 
concrete-recycled styrofoam ground up and mixed in. High insulation, 
interesting for owner-builder approach. But the same building could 
easily be made of conventional stick-frame construction, stress skin 
panels or any other material. 

Specific to your own site: relation to various directions, light at 
various times of day, pathways and views, parking and deliveries. 

Find out at the outset what the constraints are from your local building 
I know of one, fairly isolated, cohousing that got its CH permitted as a 
sort of residence, not a "commercial" or "public" building. They had to 
pretend they weren't really going to cook-- called it a "warming kitchen 
for potlucks", called their kid room something like a meditation room, 
etc. We, on the other hand, are in a small town and everyone knows 
everything and it has to be built to various "public building" codes. 
This kicks in requirements for panic hardware on the doors, fire 
extinguishers, ADA accessibility for bathrooms, entrances, etc; exit 
signs, extra strength floors, number of bathrooms (we had to face them 
down for a solid hour to get them not to require FOUR bathrooms); strict 
wattage limitations for lighting, which made us have to use mostly 
fluorescents, whether we wanted to or not. Knowing these things at the 
outset, you can design for them, and budget for them. 

I recommend that you include a line item in your budget for "ecological 
upgrades" if that matters to you. Otherwise, at each step you'll reject 
the eco choice because it costs more. 

If our general layout and content interests you, let me know and I'll 
send you a floor plan. Send me a few bucks for copying, postage, and 
trekking around. Thanks. 

Lynn Nadeau
RoseWind Cohousing
3221 Haines Street 
Port Townsend WA 98368
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