Re: Summarizing - Affordability and Living Cheaper in Coho
From: rpdowds (
Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2013 13:27:20 -0800 (PST)
The three top ways to build cheaper and habit cheaper are ... 

(1) Per sq ft, multi-family will always be cheaper than single family: Share 
some walls, let your ceiling be someone else's floor, and save a buck. Probably 
lots of bucks. 
(2) Simplify, simplify. Note I am promoting simpler, not necessarily smaller. 
Taking a conventional center-entrance Colonial and squeezing 10% out of every 
dimension will cut close to 20% out of the square footage.* But the darn thing 
will still have the same number of corners, doors, windows, power outlets, 
dormers, bedrooms, closets and so on. Making things 20% smaller will save you 
less than 10%. But if you can make them simpler — open plan, just a few windows 
but in the best location, a single bathroom designed for multi-function and 
double-duty, etc — you can keep your floor area, and still save a lot of money. 
(3) Off the grid, off the wall technology — my all time favorite of which is 
shown in the Taos Earthships (yes, I know, single family, but lots of other 
redeeming characteristics). Go find 

Great design, and great designers, can make 1, 2 and 3 work well together. 

R Philip Dowds AIA 
Cornerstone Cohousing 
Cambridge, MA 

* PS: Don't forget the American sfh center entrance Colonial was itself a 
squarshed version of the British baronial manse. 

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jerry McIntire" <jerry.mcintire [at]> 
To: "Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]> 
Sent: Saturday, January 5, 2013 3:02:42 PM 
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Summarizing - Affordability and Living Cheaper in Coho 

Thanks Mariana for the summary. 

In our case, we have chosen to site our community close to the jobs, 
schools, and shopping that we use regularly, which reduces commuting 
expenses. This is a way to keep cohousing from being more expensive than 
other options. 

We are counting on smaller homes and an efficient common house to require 
less square feet (less cost) than would all of us building individual homes 
without the shared amenities. Guest rooms in the common house is perhaps 
the best example-- all of the homes can forgo building a guest room. We 
plan to do the same with laundry. 

Shared space and resources are significant, I believe. Condos and 
apartments approach this, of course, but with much less sharing of 
equipment and social resources. 

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