Re: Elevators and exclusions
From: Randy Sailer (
Date: Tue, 20 May 2008 06:47:42 -0700 (PDT)
The efficiency of buildings depends a lot on the environment. In sunny CA or in the south, it may be cheaper to build on the flat for several reasons: 1) compared to the northeast or upper midwest, deep footings are not required. Where I live you need footings to below the frost line which is something like 48 inches. You get cheap space by digging a little deeper and having a basement.... 2) taller, more cubical buildings (the cubical part is important) have less surface area exposed to the weather (the roof of the first floor becomes the floor of the 2nd, etc.) and are, given the same insulation practices less expensive to build and heat. 3) Town houses (like apartments) can share more wall space, further reducing the surface area exposed to the weather. 4) Building up is relatively cheap compared to building out because you need smaller roofs and less foundation. [Our community did one, two and four. Our homes are all energy star 5+ rated].

The construction of brownstones in NYC is an enormous demonstration of those principles.

Many folks in our community designed their houses so if they become mobility impaired, they can live on the first floor.

One comment about this conversation... There are lots of kinds of disabilities. We are focusing almost entirely on mobility impairment. Others are important too.

Randy Sailer
Rocky Hill Cohousing

On May 19, 2008, at 6:43 PM, cohousing-l-request [at] wrote:

Message: 1
Date: Mon, 19 May 2008 13:42:33 -0700
From: "Jenny Guy" <jenstermeister [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Elevators and exclusions
To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
        <82eb2d8f0805191342s52e769dese408b19dcf6130ae [at]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

Regarding economical building, and affording elevators:

You mentioned you'd probably build townhouses to save money; I think that townhouses are more costly than flats. Many people consider them "nicer" and they have the advantage that everyone's unit opens directly onto the courtyard. But every home needs a staircase, which costs more. If you build flats, all the ground floor flats are accessible without an elevator, and all the second floor units could be accessible with a single elevator,
and a balcony connecting them.

But elevator or no, I think you've got more accessibility and significantly lower cost with flats than with townhouses. Well, if you didn't have an
elevator you'd have more *livable* units with flats, and more
*visitable*ones with townhouses.... I think you'd save more than
enough for an elevator
by eliminating all those internal staircases and the space they take up.

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