Re: Shared Walls or Single Family Houses?
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008 05:20:18 -0800 (PST)
Joani Blank of Swan's Market Cohousing made a strong argument to Tom Shea for 
shared walls, and it seems as though all her points are valid.  The thing is 
that her viewpoint might have an urban bias, and her values are not priority 
with some people.  Here in Florida, our group considering elder cohousing has a 
priority of downsized, detached cottages.  Although some members did not 
express a preference and were willing to go either way, the majority wanted 
detached cottages.  Granted, our group is primarily made up of people in their 
70's with a bell curve representation of those members in their 60's and 80's 
and only one single representative of the 50's age group..  These older members 
remember a quieter time in small towns during the pre-WW II era, and have a 
nostalgic vision of what their new community should look like.  They are mostly 
from traditional neighborhoods of detached houses or from gated communities of 
detached houses, and only a few have had a condo experience.  We are 
considering the use of cracker style homes similar to those designed by the 
Katrina Cottage Group (<> ).  Sometimes 
decisions boil down to values rather than economy or efficiency.  I've visited 
cohousing neighborhoods with attached homes, and they were certainly attractive 
and vibrant.  Nonetheless, they remind me of the row houses and town houses of 
the Northeast from which I escaped in favor of my own house with a little 
breathing room.  My preference, my values, but it's shared with many other 
folk.  To each his/her own, and either way, it's the community more than the 
architecture that makes cohousing so attractive to so many people.     

Van Deist    
Suncoast Cohousing
Venice, Florida      
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Joani Blank<mailto:joani [at]> 
  To: cohousing-l [at]<mailto:cohousing-l [at]> 
  Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2008 11:28 PM
  Subject: [C-L]_ Shared Walls or Single Family Houses?

  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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