Re: starting it alone (was Risks)
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 2004 20:52:29 -0800 (PST)
>Would it be possible to start a co-housing community alone or with one other
>person - to buy the land and build one or two houses to start, and then seek
>other members?  Would this lower the risk? 

 Those who start alone on property of their own, need to be very clear 
how equal they want their joiners to be. It can work in many different 
ways, but it's important to be frank with yourself and the others. Are 
you the owner and looking for something like housemates, landmates, 
renters, or such? Or do you have a plan for phasing it over from your 
ownership (might be a LLC) to equally shared ownership, at what price, 
under what conditions? If the group evolved in a direction not to your 
liking, would YOU be willing to leave? 

Risk can be controlled by not investing in more than you can personally 
assume, at least to start with. Or find land where you can make a 
purchase contract to buy it in increments, over a given time period. 
(That's what we did at RoseWind, in that we made a contract with the land 
seller, and every 6 months we'd initiate the purchase of another acre of 
the land, and add payments on that acre to what we already had. As long 
as we kept on schedule, the price was locked in. That also spread out the 
taxable income for the seller.) Think phasing. Avoid lots of stuff half 
finished: finish phase one, then embark on phase two, however you define 
it. But define it. 

 Complete what you can, yourselves, and add to it as others join you. Be 
sure you know the land-use stuff: zoning, water rights, city or county 
requirements, and other legalities. At some point, money on a real-estate 
lawyer might be well spent. Define what constitutes joining, what rights 
and responsibilities are involved, how a person can withdraw and get 
their money back (when a replacement for them is found?). And put it all 
in writing. 

There is no "only" way to do cohousing, and there are infinite varieties 
of intentional community. See the FIC Directory, for examples. The result 
may not look like some cohousings, but so what? If it gets something 
happening, go for it! 

You can define your decision making process, goals, values, etc however 
you choose. There are now so many examples out there - no need to 
reinvent the wheel.     

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