Re: Common House costs
From: cynthia . e . carpenter (
Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2000 10:23:11 -0700 (MST)

In Jasmine's message (attached below), it sounds like you are suggesting
labeling public spaces as private to get around putting in an elevator, which is
typically required to ensure access for disabled individuals, and you don't
mention the inclusion of any alternatives, such as a ramp.

I know that the cost of an elevator seems prohibitive to many struggling
cohousing groups, but please think long and hard before you build a "common"
house which isn't accessible to your whole community and their guests.  If you
don't have anyone in your current group who is in a wheelchair or otherwise
disabled, it's easy to think that the expense isn't worth it.  But we're
building long-term communities and if you don't have someone who needs an
elevator now, you probably will soon, either because of accident, illness, or
just growing older.  (In our community, we already had an elevator in the common
house, but balked at the cost of stairchairs in two sets of stacked apartments.
In the end, we agreed to pay for them, and you can guess what happened... one of
the residents in the stacked flats had a stroke right around the time of moving
in and needed the stairchair for several weeks.)  Elevator access is also
enormously useful to adults traveling with small kids (and various other items)
in arms or strollers.  If your laundry is in the common house, an elevator can
make the difference between your elderly or more fragile members being able to
do their laundry themselves or requiring assistance.

If you are still looking for members to your group, making all community areas
and at least the ground floor of all residences accessible won't ensure that you
fill those spaces, but *not* providing access will ensure that anyone who has a
movement disability (or has disabled friends or relatives or elderly parents)
will not join your group.

- Cindy
Cambridge Cohousing

I was recently looking at the blueprints for the E-Z Cohousing group in
Pleasant Hill, California. I saw lots of things labelled as home
offices. When I asked about them, I was told that these were the
children's rooms, craft rooms, etc. They were labelled this way to avoid
many code issues including having an elevator. They are using the Jim
Leach/Wunderland streamlined model with The Cohousing Company. I don't
have any more details, but this might be something to look into in other
areas as well.

--Jasmine Gold, PERCH (San Franciso Peninsula Region Cohousing) where we
are the process of forming an LLC and getting financing paperwork
together because our real estate agent has told us is the only way to
compete in this crazy real estate market where what little developable
raw land exists goes for $2,000,0000 an acre and we are still figuring
out how to compete with developers.

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