Re: Feedback Requested Cohousing Plan
From: Lion Kuntz (
Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2006 23:21:19 -0700 (PDT)

--- "Sustainable Community ." <sustainable_community [at]>

> Forming Cohousing  -- Economic Eco-Village
> This plan will ask members to work at regular jobs for two years and
> save
> most, if not all of their money.

The assumption being they don't already have sufficient equity to sell
out and put down the down payment?

The assumption being they don't already have savings, a nest egg?

> After two years, the members will
> buy land 
> and materials for
> standard stick built efficient homes.

Dictating this construction is already inefficient. See the following
link for efficiency in construction, be it stick-frame or otherwise.

No dome kits? No "manufactured house" as starter units?

> Each member will own their
> house and 
> control their own finances.

Condo association?

> One weekend per month the members will work for food and utilities.

This is unusual. You have an obligation to explain more. Normally
people work for food and utilities, but they do it on workdays, not
weekends. Do they get to buy their groceries, pick their own food -- I
ask as a diabetic who doesn't eat most things found on restaurant
menus, or at least not in those proportions.

> During the two years housing will be provided by a sponsor for the
> members 
> and in return the sponsor will receive one land portion for the two
> year 
> rental fee.

Sharecropping comes to mind. This is very ambiguous and needs
clarification. Housing lots in plum locations are worth a lot more than
2 years room rental, in other places a lot less.

> During the two year period members will share a room with
> one 
> other person.

It becomes dormatory, not even room rental, which certainly affects the
sharecropper's burden to buy a building lot for the landlord after 2

> Each member will be asked to participate in on going
> classes 
> for one or more construction skills.

This should be standard operating procedure. They ought to have classes
in high school. As it stands today people make the biggest purchase of
their lifetimes without ever taking a class in what constitutes a
better purchase.

> The details will be posted on a
> web 
> site (underdevelopment) and will be known by all members in detail
> prior to 
> being accepted into the program.

This ought to have been done first, before the request for comments.

> Modifications to the details and
> control of 
> the common land will be done by the group during the two year period
> and 
> afterwards.

The governance structures seem to be ambiguous. There is already a
hierarchy in place. Rules have been posted already. Decisions have been

> Final location has not been decided.

So the exchange rate for dormatory housing rental value towards buying
the landlord a homesite are not yet known to be equitable transactions.

> The houses will be build to
> standard 
> building codes except to allow for clustering if wanted by the group.

NO. The houses will be built to code regardless of whether they are
clustered or not. No state lacks building codes, although some rural
states more rural counties are more relaxed about how aggressively they
enforce every little detail. Connecticut is too small to have
overlooked corners in it.

> An 
> extensive application for membership will be required.

I always want to see the landlord's answers to the same application
forms. Who will be looking at this information, and will the same
quality of information be available about you to prospective buy-ins?

> I am interested in comments on what I have put up here. A realize
> more 
> detail is needed for in depth comments.
> Thank You ... Dean
> Dean Fenton

My above comments were line by line parsing. There is also a gestalt,
response to the whole package. I don't know what an "economic
eco-village" is. I never saw those adjectives married before. I have
nothing particular against somebody taking on the role of developer and
selling a packaged idea to the public, who buys-in based on their own
wants and needs and perceived values.

The rules you posted make it look like you are selling to a
budget-conscious group who will be owner-builders (else why stipulate
construction classes?). Selecting out those persons dependent on you
for housing indicates they might be rather financially distressed. 

Again, I have no reservations about you caterring to this underserved
segment of the market, likely to be first-time home-owners, but the
chances of being an "eco" village are not good. 

You have already stipulated out the most efficient housing style of
multifamily dwellings which share walls or partitions. A good many
"co-housing" models I have perused have townhouses, known otherwise in
other places as "row houses", which are clustered to the extent that
they are built attached to the neighbor. Reducing one outside wall
reduces one broad surface for heat loss, which has to be a high concern
in New England. Losing any opportunity for shared central utilities,
like central air and heating means redundant systems in every dwelling.
Clustered housing also compacts human activities so that less overall
space is consumed in driveways and road stubs.

What you have described is the 20th century "American Dream" of working
to buy a private home with the white picket fence, using the sweat off
one's brow to obtain that dream. Where does the "eco" come in, or is
everything everywhere "eco"?

In case I forgot to mention it before, the 20th century lifestyles
failed, miserably. They produced 150 oceanic dead zones without any
hope even one of them can be cured by sticking to that path. A lot of
other problems associated with those white picket fences have made
themselves known over time. Connecticut was drenched with near-flooding
rain this week, did you notice that? I followed the trail of that rain
hour by hour, every half hour in fact, on multiple satellites from it's
birthplace in the Carribean.

Two permanent hot spots have developed, bleeding wounds, hemorrhages in
fact, in the tropical waters. You just got soaked by one of them, and
the other has been sending tornadoes to Idaho, Arizona, Nebraska, even
Kentucky all week. I can follow the clouds mile by mile every 30
minutes as they move from their nursery to the spot where they blow
people's roofs off and end their picket fence dreams. You can look at
one of those hot spots on the weather channel -- Tropical Depression #1
sprang from one yesterday. Pacific Tropical Storm Aletta was spawned by
the other one two weeks ago.

You can read about them here:

I think you need to consider stronger buildings than you have in mind.
Maybe with more emphasis on "eco". It wouldn't be a bad idea to have
mandatory course on "eco" before you start the classes on construction.
You might want to study "after" pictures of what survived hurricanes
and tornadoes, even what survived the 2004 tsunami, when everything
else fell down. Then you will understand better what kind of
construction classes you need to study.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Sincerely, Lion Kuntz
Santa Rosa, California, USA
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around 

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.