Re: "Targeting" the wealthy
From: Lion Kuntz (
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2006 21:58:15 -0700 (PDT)

--- Becky Weaver <beckyweaver [at]> wrote:

> Brian wrote,   
> | And no groups have formed who want to build the kind of
> off-the-grid
> | housing that is allowed in communities like Dancing Rabbit where
> | people can live in tents for $3,000 a year. It would be really
> | interesting if you wanted to do that.
> As someone who is willing to self-build all sorts of alternative
> wierdness, I've wondered about that. Is it that the tastes of
> cohousers and ecovillagers simply don't overlap? That it's banned by
> zoning/permitting/licensing/publicity/etc in areas where cohos want
> to
> be? That coho structures tend to have mortgages, which require resale
> values, which requires acceptability to broad tastes?  I've done some
> thinking about this, and I think that mortgages/financing are one
> factor.   
>   More fundamentally, for most ecovillagers, I suspect that the "eco"
> is foremost and the village is a means to that end. For most
> cohousers, it's the "co" that's foremost, and the "housing" is a
> means to that end. 

Having looked at a variety of "eco-villages" the common denominators
are price and freedom from restrictive covenants. People can buy a dome
kit prefabricated and erect it for far less than a custom home. There's
the price. Then the freedom to build a dome is the freedom. The "eco"
is a codeword that means low-impact land-integrated, which is a reverse
form of restriction negating McMansions.

Co-housing on the otherhand is into restricting satellite dishes,
remember? No naughty solar panels allowed. Big discussion on the proper
temperature for tar and feathering scofflaws not far back in time.

When resale value is a big issue you can pretty well bet your neighbors
are planning to be temporary.

>   Researching alternative weirdness is fun, but if your main goal is
> community, with the housing as a means to that goal, you will get the
> housing done much, much faster - possibly even prior to total
> community burnout - if you turn the design & construction over to
> people who do housing for a living. 
>   Remember that building 30 houses plus a common house, even on a
> phased construction schedule, has a higher level of complexity than
> building one house 31 times. This is a massive undertaking, not
> comparable to building yourself a custom home on your own piece of
> land. And building professionals have to be more conservative than
> self-builders, because they'll get sued if they choose something new
> & it doesn't perform as expected. 

Well yes. I've worked on construction projects building hundreds of
homes phased over several years. You have your choice of a few
floorplans, a few facades, a few choices in cabinetry. Most of it is
cookie cutter, one after the other. My first summer job was a developer
near Boston back in the 1960s. All the lumber was factory precut and
delivered to each house site. Seven houses per week were built. My crew
did siding and roof with cedar shingles one house per day. In many ways
mass building a 30 home development is simpler than building 30 custom
homes on 30 lots. But two homes is more complicated than one and 30 are
more complicated than 30 times one-at-a-time, especially to the

You will increasingly have a hard time finding a developer that will
let you sue them -- there's a binding arbitration clause in the
>   Another difference between cohousers and those who chose more
> "alternative" forms of intentional community is that, to make a broad
> generalization, cohousers are looking to enhance the lives they
> already have, not embark upon a completely new way of life. Some
> people, especially retirees, move to a new city for cohousing, but
> the majority of people move into cohousing while keeping the same
> job, friends, car, hobbies, and habits that they had before they
> moved into cohousing. Moving off the grid and living in a tent while
> self-building your eco-house could get pretty hairy if you were also
> holding down a full-time job and raising children. Perhaps there are
> hardy souls who have done this, and my hat's off to them, but the
> average cohouser isn't looking for that kind of challenge.  

Where does this tent thing come from? Why do people who want a more
customized habitation have to live in tents but the rest get to live
normal lives until the building is done? Is this some kind of an insult
that I didn't recognize as one? Look: if you like identical row houses,
you live where you are until yours is ready to move in, else if you
like customized unique construction you still live where you are until
it is ready to move in. I don't get where the tent comes from in that

And where does moving off the grid come from? Only cookie-cutter homes
can be on the grid, and the rest have to be far far away in some

-- Lion Kuntz
Sonoma County, California

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