Re: not co-housing?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 07:54:45 -0700 (PDT)

On May 28, 2008, at 4:08 PM, Laura Agnew wrote:

So if you were to move into an existing co-housing community, would this not be considered co-housing, since you weren't involved in the planning process of the community?

I recently visited a new apt building in our neighborhood that was strictly a developer designed building. It looked so familiar!

Finally, I realized it had exactly the same fixtures, doors, cabinets, sinks, appliances, etc. No commonhouse but a fairly large "party room" that could be used spontaneously or reserved. It even had many green features, including bamboo floors and a green roof. The units were sensibly designed -- if not more sensibly.

There is only so much you can do and keep an apartment affordable. Our grade of building is "construction grade" and there are only so many options to keep the costs down.

Also what ends up happening is that you have a design team that makes the decisions that can be made. Not everyone participates in this process beyond a beginning charette. Even then, there are only so many options, mostly in the commonhouse- - closed or open kitchen, game rooms or not, quiet spaces or not, workshop or not. Things like that.

And we might have been better off letting a professional cohousing designer do the commonhouse because we are now looking at plans to reconfigure ours.

There may be an advantage to going through this phase to bond the group but I wonder whether this time would be better spent taking about values and expectations. What is appropriate behavior for children? Is the commonhouse a public or private facility? Do we want meals 4 times a week? How do we manage that?

And the biggie, what will be required to maintain the facility? Elevator inspections and requirements, sump pump maintenance. Sweeping and mopping. Cleaning the stove and refrigerator. Regulations for cleaning the storm sewer. We would have been well served by having a professional, experienced property manager come talk to us.

But then again, once we moved in a lot of preconceptions fell away. Meals turned out on the whole to be sparsely attended or too elaborate to maintain (big feasts with lots of guests). We had few children and people without children had no idea how children should be expected to behave.

So I'm not sure about that 2 years of bonding either.

The intention to be good neighbors and to share a life together is essential.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing,Washington DC

  • not co-housing? Laura Agnew, May 28 2008
    • Re: not co-housing? Sharon Villines, May 29 2008

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