Re: Unit selection process
From: Pastor Liz (
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2011 12:58:29 -0800 (PST)
AND to add further to my friend and neighbors impressions....

We actually had to committ to a unit SIZE when we joined as equity
members (5% down), and so when I, seven years after becoming an equity
member, wanted to switch from buying a house on my own, and instead
wanted to share a house with my new life partner (and person who
already had his own 5% down on his own different sized home) we had to
GET PERMISSION FROM THE GROUP to change. I made it funny and fun when
the decision happened, but the reality is I hated the fact that group
had that kind of authority over my personal life.

Then, we designed our home sizes around the make-up of the group, and
thus ended up with four (or five) Four bedroom homes to meet the needs
of the three (or four) families that wanted them. And then right
before move-in all but one of those households needed to drop to a
smaller home size. And now three years later, it is those same
"necessary" homes that are not-yet-sold. What makes it more
frustrating to me is that this is a "known" is very common
in cohousing for folk to decide they can get by with a smaller house
size (or for the home prices to increase requiring folk to get by with
a smaller house size) at the last minute.
So we knew that information during the design phase. But what group
would build less bigger houses then have people to buy big houses?
Even if you  know that some unknown percent of them will drop to a
smaller size???

And I'm the person who ended up with two basements. I'd still be angry
about that, except for the fact that I have the best house I have ever
lived in, and its in the best community ever created, AND we have
common meals all the time. And a hot tub. And my neice visits just to
use her ripstick on our great walkways. And I know my neighbors. And

Berlin, MA.

On Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 3:41 PM, Diana Carroll <dianaecarroll [at]> 
> Ah, not to disagree with my friend and neighbor Cat in a public forum
> but,well, I must disagree...
>>> At what point in the process did buyers firmly (irrevocably) commit to a
>> >> specific kind of unit (multi-story or flat, small or large, etc.)?
>> >>
>> Irrevocably? When they signed purchase and sale agreements.
> Irrevocably?  At closing.
> We had unit swapping going on long after units were supposedly locked
> down.  Some people walked away from their P&S, leaving their homes
> unclaimed, and other people switching to those units.  Me being one of
> those people. We switched units well after construction had
> fact, when construction was almost complete.  We walked away from $5-10K of
> upgrades we paid cash for in order to do so.
> (Hell, we have a unit switch going on right now, 3 years AFTER closing!
> But that's perhaps a different situation.  :-) )
>> > Once the mix of units was chosen, how did you go about allowing
>> > individuals to choose specific units?
>> >
>> We did this, and it turned out to work beautifully:
> We did this and it worked out fairly well.  Cat's perspective and mine
> might differ in that she was further up the seniority list than I was.   I
> never felt really great about where we ended up, which is why we switched
> when the opportunity presented itself.
> The process was also not anything like as simple as those short paragraphs
> in the policy imply.  We had a variety of complicating factors.  In
> particular, at the very last minute we added the possibility of units
> having basements (they were originally to be built on slabs), but if one
> unit in a building had a basement, they ALL had to have basements, and only
> some people wanted to pay for basements.   A lot of finagling had to happen
> to get everyone who wanted a basement above one, and everyone who didn't
> not (and units not yet sold) above one.  (To make it work, one household
> had to purchase two basements.  it was a chaotic and nutty couple weeks!)
>>> What pitfalls should we be on the look out for?
>>Keep both the number unit types and the number of building types small.
> Also anticipate the possibility of people not buying the house they are
> "committed" to buying.  What happens then?  Don't paint yourselves in a
> corner.
> (My main lesson learned in building cohousing: it's never ever EVER as
> simple as you think it's going to be.  Or as cheap.)
> Diana
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(The Rev.) Elizabeth M. Magill
Worcester Fellowship

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