Re: Cohousing-L digest, Vol 1 #352 - 2 msgs
From: Ormond Otvos (
Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2002 16:55:02 -0700 (MST)
Wow. Here's another way to look at things: Following the previously emerged idea of letting needs emerge from the group, how about using the Jim Walters concept for an ENTIRE cohousing group.

Jim Walters builds houses to ANY degree of completion you desire. My father and mother built the only wooden house in Charlotte county Florida in 1962. All the others were concrete block. Precautions were taken against termites and rot, and the house still looks like new, on top and underneath. My father figured he saved at least half of the final cost by doing the interior himself. You can do your own contracting, but you still have to meet code. It is not nearly as hard as paying off a 30-year mortgage to a bunch of incompetent electricians, plumbers and carpenters, and you can do a lot of extremely handicraft things with your interior that you could never even get a contractor to touch for a reasonable price.

Has anyone heard of a lowball cohousing for the retiree low on funds but well-endowed with contracting skills and engineering expertise? I'd much prefer to do my own interior framing, electric, plumbing, carpentry, cabinetry, and painting, just like I did on the two dozen or so houseboats I built in the Keys, and like I did in Port Townsend (anyone notice the stone house on the airport road, on the right four miles from Port Townsend going in?) and Englewood, downtown (cue Petula Clark).

It seems that a major part of cohousing is cooperation, and the joy of working together, barn-raising style. If everything is done, it seems you'd end up with a tendency to trivial makework to get that feeling, where it could be real. A compliant inspector is a big help, but the kibitz tendency always picks up the errors in code anyway, and it helps us learn to deal with kibitzers as positive influences. It's been a major problem to deal with that element in a positive way in the communalist societies I've been with, forming alternative schools, houseboat cooperatives, peace marches, Unitarian churches, atheist discussion groups, and work parties.

Please don't pick out some language style and miss the point. I am not noted as a headpatter, I'm afraid, but I can fix a TV, car, boat or solar electric system. I'd really like to see some 50k elements, rather than 250k, since a good attitude frequently interferes with earning capacity in this rapacious culture.

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