Re: Combo Communities: New & Retro
From: Dirk Herr-Hoyman @ Danenet (
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2007 09:27:51 -0700 (PDT)
I'm also part of Arboretum Cohousing and in fact am going to
purchase an existing home.  I'll answer Rachel's questions in line.

On Jun 14, 2007, at 10:51 AM, Karen Carlson wrote:

Hello, Rachel: Arboretum Cohousing (Arbco) in Madison, Wisconsin will be breaking ground in late summer. We will incorporate 7 (I think) existing
houses, an existing triplex, a new duplex to be built by Habitat for
Humanity, and we're building 2 apartment buildings with about 30 units. There are members who have been part of the org for a lot longer than I
have and could answer your detailed questions. I know the houses were
sold "as is" while the triplex will be rehabed from our community
budget. Please look at our website, arboretumcohousing. org. You can use the contact number for more info if you don't hear from someone reading
your posting.

Good luck on your porject!


Rachel Wangen-Hoch wrote:
I am a prospective member of a new cohousing community which is soon
to break ground in Olympia, WA. There is a property adjacent to the
land where this project is being developed which has 3 houses for
sale. I am interested in researching the possibility of doing some
retrofit cohousing in addition to the new construction for purposes of
adding affordable housing to the mix and widening our income
diversity. Does anyone have any information about how this might work? Do you know of any communities which are a combination of retrofit and
new construction which I could contact for information?

Basic questions I have are as follows:
1. How does the ownership of the retrofit units work? Would they be
condos like the new units?
The existing homes are owned by the individuals. It's their responsibility
for maintenance.  With the condo units you only own what's inside.
We have established a 5 foot perimeter around each home that is also
going to be part of these homes.

2. How does one go about pricing the retrofit units which are to be
part of the new community?
This was complex.  We looked at the appraised value of these homes,
took out the value of the land, and then added in a "common cost".
The common cost was applied also to the condo units.

We also are selling these in "as-is" condition.  The other choice was to
bring them up to some uniform level of condition and perhaps other
choices like energy efficiency.  The "as-is" option was easier for us
to wrap our brains around.

3. How do you avoid the retrofit portion of the cohousing community
becoming the affordable housing "ghetto" - I want to make sure the
same love and care which is going into the planning of the new
construction would also go into the retrofit portion, and in the
future would have the same concern for upkeep by all members.

It will be up to the free-standing homes as to the level of care they give to their homes. Rather than dictating a uniform level for all of these homes to be at. This will for some with less means to join our community, which
we consider a plus.

There is a review process for any proposed changes, particularly additions.
That's already happened, even before we have closed on the land.

4. Would it make more sense for our LLC to purchase the property with
the homes, or for an individual or 2 from the core group to do so on
their own?

You have to figure out who owns the land to answer this question.
In our case, the community owns all the land.

One thing we did find out recently is that insurers would only take out
insurance on the ENTIRE community, this is for the buildings. Individual
home owners wouldn't be able to get a policy.


I'm really new at this, so need lots of pointers, basic info, etc. I
just feel very strongly about there being some affordable housing as
part of the community and want to be able to present a well researched
proposal to the community.


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