Re: Free standing or connected
From: Michael Black (
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2008 18:38:22 -0800 (PST)
Hello all ?
re: Tom Shea's question:

Since sustainability is critical to our health and the health of the planet,
connected homes makes sense. There is less heat loss and more efficiency
regarding utilities and pathways.

In addition, in my opinion (I now live at Yulupa Cohousing, which is 18
units to the acre) the closer you are to each-other physically, the closer
you will be socially. There is also better soundproofing between units with
a shared wall as opposed to between walls with windows that are perhaps 10
feet apart.

In community,
Michael Black

>  PLEASE, TRIM YOUR TAILS. That is, minimize quoted material
>  on replies.  See
> Great!  
> Hypothetical:    If you were be part of a group of folks interested in
> developing a new cohousing community and the group was unsure (no one has a
> strong opinion either way) with whether to develop single family or joined
> units (i.e. shared walls and roofs vs stand alone homes) which way would you
> want to go?  Why?   Would you design all units or allow individuals to design
> build (assuming stand alone homes)?
> Tom Shea
> Message: 3
> Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 09:44:39 -0500
> From: Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>
> Subject: [C-L]_ Affordable Cohousing, Renters vs Owners
> To: tom shea <sheamuson [at]>
> Cc: cohousing-l [at]
> Message-ID: <54F213AA-3DC0-4F8D-ACB7-4644DB485A34 [at]>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed; delsp=yes
> On Jan 12, 2008, at 11:58 PM, tom shea wrote:
>> I am indeed speaking of affordable as "ability to pay" rather than a
>> refection of regional market price.  You also raise the concept of
>> egalitarian community (build to the same standards).  Do you think
>> that putting everyone on a level playing field in this manner from
>> day one would discourage potential future investors (i.e. community
>> members) once built units return to the market, or for that matter
>> prevent initial investors?  Is there enough individuality on the
>> interior of units to prevent this from occurring?  Would different
>> standards apply to rental units verses owned?
> In cohousing the investors are the people who will live in the housing
> -- outside investors are rare. There could be variation in the size of
> the units (studio, one bedroom, etc) but smaller will always be less
> expensive. The costs that you have less control over are land value
> and the simple square footage costs of construction required by
> building codes. Codes can greatly influence the price of a house. 60
> minutes once did a  piece on single-room occupancy housing. The
> builder could build twice as cheaply in I think it was Seattle than he
> could in Manhattan because of out dated building code requirements.
> Land and codes are why many communities can build more cheaply in
> rural areas.
> These are the costs that make smaller less expensive. Above that you
> can only control things like number of bathrooms, surface treatments,
> quality of kitchen cabinets, etc.
> I don't think the need for less expensive housing will go away anytime
> soon. And the various homeowners will upgrade their homes differently
> so there will be variation. It won't affect resale value to have the
> units all look alike. Developers do this as standard practice in all
> condominiums and housing developments. It simplifies construction,
> purchasing, and inventory, thus reduces labor costs.
> It is also very convenient to have a unit with a floor plan like my
> neighbors because I can see how they arrange their furniture or
> replace a cabinet or add a counter. It gives me ideas. And we all
> complain about the same things.
> Different standards for rentals and owned units is something that I
> think has led to the differing values applied to renters vs owners.
> This originated when there were class issues associated with owning
> vs. renting. The more educated and affluent could afford to own.
> Others had to rent -- no choice. This led to housing that reflected
> socio-economic class differences reinforced by cheap, substandard
> housing and declining neighborhoods. Deteriorating or out of favor
> homes, like urban townhouses for example, were chopped up into
> apartments. Many did not even have bathtubs and they shared toilets.
> This led to renters being less invested in their homes and in their
> neighborhoods. Vicious cycle. The housing projects in urban areas were
> doomed to failure.
> Developers still follow practices like putting more expensive
> countertops in larger homes --if you can afford 5 bedrooms and a three
> car garage you can afford granite countertops. If they are building a
> one bedroom, they put in the cheapest formica. The idea of smaller but
> the same quality is not standard practice. Nor is quality in rented vs
> owned.
> A developer is building high-end rentals near me. In Manhattan it is
> common to rent and there I've seen 400 sq ft studios with marble
> bathrooms and huge lobbies and common areas in rentals. So this
> attitude might be changing but in real estate nothing changes fast
> except prices.
> Sorry this is so long, but it took me a long time to realize that
> cohousing is housing -- it's real estate development. It may be real
> estate development attached to community but real estate is what
> distinguishes cohousing from other kinds of community. And it has
> grown exponentially since professional real estate developers have
> become interested. I like to share that perspective with new cohousers
> because it helps to get to that understanding quickly.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Sociocracy, a Deeper Democracy
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