Cobb Hill background
From: Judith Bush (
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 19:43:16 -0600 (MDT)

Construction is expected to begin at Cobb Hill, Hartland, Vermont in the
next month.  With 16 of 22 member households identified, we are putting the
word out to find the final few who will complete the initial membership
roster of this community.  If sustainable living in rural Vermont with an
age diverse group of doers and seekers is of interest to you, please read
on. What follows was recently written by Donella Meadows, a community

The Cobb Hill website is  There you will find
principles, bylaws, pictures, member lists, site plan, etc.  The house plans
the site are early sketches that will be updated soon.  What follows is a
brief update of
 the narrative, since we've come so far so fast.  The farm is up and
running with workhorses, dairy cows, chickens, and 60 CSA subscribers.
Sugaring equipment - a traditional venture at these farms - is being moved
to a new location on the property, nearer to the sugarbush which is a
feature of the many forested acres which are being managed by the community.
We hope to break ground in mid-July,  and to start moving in early next
spring.  Completions will be staggered; the last
ones may be a year from fall 2000.  Six member families already live at or
close by the site.

When you buy into Cobb Hill you buy your own unit plus an undifferentiated
in the common property -- 270 acres of land, commonhouse, two barns (one of
which will become an Art Barn), numerous outbuildings, roads, water and
wasterwater and heating systems, etc.  Decisions about those common
are made by consensus of all owners (see our bylaws).

There are 22 housing units of various types: 3 500 sq ft one-room apartments
in the
commonhouse (which use the commonhouse kitchen), 1 shared duplex with two
 living spaces and a shared kitchen, 5 regular duplexes (1200 or 1400 sq ft
each), and
7 single family home (1200 or 1400 sq ft).  The sizes mentioned here do not
include full basements, some of which, because of the hill, are walkouts.
Living space and numbers of bedrooms can be altered by the optional building
of bays,
dormers, and other devices -- all of which change the cost .

The 3400 sq ft commonhouse will have a kitchen and dining room where
can gather, a sitting room, a kids play room, two guest bedrooms, a big
That area is its first floor; its basement and second floor will be
for the foreseeable future.  It will look out on a level playground for
and games.  There's lots of space for community gardens, plus a 7-acre CSA
garden right down the hill, on its way to organic certification.

The houses will meet or exceed Vermont Energy Star performance standards.
will have composting toilets and a graywater leachfield.  We have a common
and a single common wood-burning furnace.  Heat and hot water are delivered
through a district heating system (underground insulated pipes).  There are
propane backup heating units.  Roofs are oriented for solar and the plumbing
will allow the easy addition of solar hot water as families desire.  Our
appliances will be the most efficient ones we can afford.  Electricity will
from the grid until we can afford a fuel cell or some such.

Buy-in prices will be our actual total cost.  We can't know them exactly now
probably until the construction is finished), and they vary greatly
depending on
each family's choice of options for size, configuration, finishes,
etc.  So the prices quoted here are rough estimates and may be varied up or
down, both by your own choice (for example, you can do the finishing
and by things we haven't settled yet, such as interest rates on the
loan (half of which we are now covering ourselves with a lot of help from
friends!)  Roughly half the cost estimates I'm about to list are the actual
house cost; the rest is your share of all other costs -- the land, the
commonhouse, the common utilities, the site preparation, the permits,
legal and design and engineering costs.  You buy much more than a house when
buy into Cobb Hill.  You buy a farm, a community, a commonhouse, and many
options that will reduce your monthly operating cost.

Rough prices at the moment, per unit:
Apartment -- $120,000
Shared duplex -- $150,000-$180,000
Duplex -- $200,000-$250,000
Single family -- $210,000-$260,000

We have 16 DP (bought-in and cleared) households so far, which means there
are 6
units still available.  Until we dig cellar holes and pour cement, they
include all the types listed above, especially since I and perhaps other DPs
might be willing to change our preferences, depending on which units are
by new people coming in.  We expect that there might be buying and selling
switching units over time, as family sizes swell and shrink, and as some
households leave and units come up for sale.  Once we are filled, we will
maintain a waiting list of people who might be interested in joining us.

All member households will be together (work and play) from July 7 through
July 10.  The website tells you how to make contact and become acquainted
with us.  We encourage you to do that!

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