Re: What SHOULD I be worried about?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2014 10:11:34 -0700 (PDT)

I amplified my response to Philip's message on the site if anyone wants to read it.

Philip,I hope it is okay that I quoted this message. If not, I'll make it anonymous. Since Cohousing-L messages are public, I thought you wouldn't mind.


R Philip Dowds wrote:
Plan on delay.  Plan on surprising cost increases.  Plan on flogging your way past 
disappointments.  Your group may have to deal one or more of …

internal disagreements about location, design, pricing, membership, whatever;
complicated local or even State permitting, waivers and variances;
members that come and go, and come again;
litigation by your neighbors;
nervous bankers;
bad cost estimates;
incompetent or opportunistic professional services;
and other problems …

All of which can morph your three-year, $9mln project into a five-year, $12mln 
project.  You can, of course, succeed.  Many groups do.  Just be realistic, 
flexible, and go get expert input when you need it.  And armor up.

R Philip Dowds AIA
Cornerstone Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

On Jun 16, 2014, at 6:24 PM, Michelle Burce<michelleburce [at]>  

Hi everyone!

I'm part of a group working to build cohousing, and the resources available
on this list and its archives have been AMAZINGLY helpful! Thank you all
for sharing your wisdom over the years.

So far, many of my fears have been allayed by this list, since so many of
the responses to various problems seem to be "Communicate with your
neighbors and it will all work out fine." Choosing who gets which lot? "We
haven't had too many conflicts." Reserving the common house? "Usually not a
problem." Worried about too little privacy? "Don't worry too much."

So my question to you cohousing veterans is: What should we be worried
about / work out in advance / get a good plan for NOW? What are the bumps
in the road that actually take a solid process, or a professional, or a lot
more money than we think? What one (or two or three) piece(s) of advice
would you give some folks who have a group formed and meeting, have land
and architects picked out, but have not yet dropped the huge sums of money
to make this happen?

I think we, as cohousing newbies, might be focusing our energies in
worrying about those things that can get worked out, but are not seeing the
things that can stymie a whole community.

Thanks everyone!
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