Shared Walls or Single Family Houses?
From: Joani Blank (joaniswansway.com)
Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2008 20:28:05 -0800 (PST)
Tom Shea says his group is deciding:

"whether to develop single family or joined units (i.e. shared walls and roofs vs stand-alone homes)"

Shared walls, shared walls, shared walls, I say!

1. Shared walls contribute significantly to the sense of community (and that's what we all want to live in cohousing for, right?) 2. No matter how large--or small--your site is, shared walls preserve open space
3. You will save construction money....lots and lots of it!
4. Ongoing maintenance will cost less too!
5. The more shared walls, the more you can save on infrastructure (example: 6 or 8 units can share one water heater) 6. Units with shared walls insulate one another in cold weather, and help keep each other cool in hot weather, reducing heating and cooling costs for everyone.

Sharing walls is probably the single most ecological thing you can do! And you save lots of money in the process? What's not to like about this? I know, some of your members have had experience living in a conventional condo or apartment building or townhouse complex where they had "problems" with the person or people with whom they share walls. Take my word for it, it's really different and way easier to nip any potential problems caused by your proximity in the bud if the people on the other side of those walls are fellow community members.

I have lived for a total of fifteen years in two cohousing communities. In each of these communities, every unit has at least one shared wall, almost all have two, and a few have three! Granted, both are very urban sites where the only option was all-in-one-building attached units. but I've visited dozens of cohousing communities with five to forty plus acres, and almost without exception, those with the most shared walls have the strongest sense of community.

Joani Blank
Swan's Market Cohousing
Oakland, CA



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