Re: Affordability?
From: David Heimann (
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 16:04:28 -0700 (PDT)
Hello April and discussants,

We managed at Jamaica Plain Cohousing to establish an affordable community (that's relatively speaking of course, we're in Boston!), in the sense that a large fraction of our households have median or lower household incomes. What we did is very similar to what Robert Heinrich mentions: very few unit plans, limited options, no customization, a building liaison to the contractor (and a household liaison to that liaison!), pooling our questions and discussions, etc. Considering a number of major unexpected expenses that hit us, it's probably the only reason we got our units built at a cost reasonably comparable to the average in Boston. What we also did was to create an affordability fund with money put forward by a number of households in the community to help some of the other households to make it in.

Most likely affordability will require both -- very standardized planning to keep the costs down and an affordability fund to help households over the hump. However, I imagine Albany is an easier place to make something affordable than is Boston. All the best!

David Heimann
JP Cohousing

Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 19:38:54 -0400
From: "Robert Heinich" <robert [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Affordability?
To: "Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]>
Message-ID: <007301c7675b$19612430$6609a8c0@IBMA3A7311B559>
Content-Type: text/plain;       charset="iso-8859-1"


Cohousing can made more affordable but building houses is still expensive.

Eno Commons started off as the affordable cohousing community in the Triangle area in North Carolina.

Some of the cost-limiting practices were:
* We had only 2 house plans for 22 houses.  No custom houses
  and we tried to limit options.
  (To quote Jessie Handforth Kome , now of Eastern Village, said,
  "Change Orders are Death!")
  * Almost every house had eggshell interior
  * we had a palette of outside colors
* We went with a production builder so multiple houses could be worked
  on at the same time.
* We had a builder liaison to limit the # of folks contacting the builder
  and we pooled our questions.

we built above average home for an average price. Unfortunately, this did not mean that everyone that started us with stayed with us. There was a housing boom 1998-1999 so building supplies cost went up and some could afford the increase cost. Despite this, we were still less expensive than the other cohousing communities in our area.

I have been told that building houses is juggling schedule, quality and cost but you can only control two of the factors.

You will need to decide on whether to live closer to Albany (more expensive land but you have access to services and perhaps a reduced dependency on cars or live further out (less expansive land but you may not have water/sewer/garbage/cable/mass transportation...). Arguments can be made for either option.

-Robert Heinich
 Eno Commons Cohousing
 Durham, NC
 where we live in the city but have a rural feel.

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