Re: affordable cohousing lot development
From: Lynn Nadeau / Maraiah (
Date: Thu, 21 Jan 2010 11:21:55 -0800 (PST)

One of the overlooked options for lower cost housing development is to use
the lot development, self builder model
Ditto to Rob Sandelin's post: RoseWind in Port Townsend WA also used this route. Our buy-in (of about $36K at the time) paid for, in approximately equal thirds, (a) the purchase of all the land - common and home sites, (b) the City-required installation of infrastructure such as roads and utilities, and (c) the Common House. Lot owners could build later, or sooner, with budget and size of their choice. We did this mainly because it was the only way that our self-financed, self-built, group could afford to proceed.

Long term, there have been a few negative consequences. If one's house is rather generic, it's easy to decide to leave if the community isn't a good fit. Having just built one's dream house (of whatever size), there is a reluctance to leave it. In at least one case I'm sure it was a factor is a family not leaving, although they effectively withdrew. The other thing is that when there is a unit for re-sale, it might be too big or too small, too plain or too fancy, for a particular person looking for a home to buy.

On the other hand, it has allowed considerable diversity of buildings. We all share the same common amenities, so in this sense a smaller house is a good deal. Right now we have two resales available, and they are quite different. The one for $405K is medium sized, fairly custom, with solar panels, three levels, and other niceties. And there is also a sunny little house for $258K which would be eco-ideal for someone with simpler needs.

The range of housing possibilities has implicitly also given us some diversity in demographics. Two Habitat-built homes, one manufactured home, several homes at or under 1000 sq ft, AND some three story 2500 sq ft fancy ones. I have never noticed any "classist" or other prejudicial attitudes here about those with larger or smaller homes than one's own: it's just a personal choice. And I also agree with Sharo V that a member family still needs to be able to afford to buy "a" home, pay annual assessments, and hopefully also have time and energy available to participate.

Maraiah Lynn Nadeau
(with photos of the 2 homes for sale)
Port Townsend WA, where a sweater is warm enough and there's no snow and the spinach is growing again

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