Re: Renovations guidelines
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Sat, 28 Jun 2014 09:05:10 -0700 (PDT)
Sharon’s response is pretty thorough, and I feel no need to embellish it with 
further detail.  But I will venture out on another tack …

Cohousing communities tend to feature a can-do, do-it-yourself attitude — and 
since they are mostly forged in the very hot, sometimes very painful fire of 
self-development, this attitude has, in large measure, been earned and 
validated.  And yet I think even well-run communities are too quick to 
pooh-pooh paying for professional services.  I never cease to be amazed at the 
number of householders who would never even try to be their own dentists, but 
who expect to be their own architects.

Early in my architectural career, I did a lot of residential remodeling.  My 
sales pitch to potential customers was this:  If you have $100K* to spend on 
remodeling your house, you will be MUCH happier if you spend $10K on an 
architect and $90K on a builder, than if you skip the design and spend $100K on 
the builder alone.  Some homeowners believed me and hired me, and on the whole, 
things usually went well.  Some did not believe me and did not hire me.  I do 
not know what happened to them, but I am not optimistic.

R Philip Dowds AIA
Cornerstone Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

* This was in the ‘80s, when $100K was still serious money.

On Jun 28, 2014, at 11:40 AM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]> 

> From Monty Bruce, Vancouver Cohousing, currently under development:
>> Renovations to residential units.  We are working to develop some
>> guidelines and rules for renovations.  Has any cohousing group
>> developed guidelines in this regard?  Any help is appreciated.
> I starte writing a response and decided to put it in my blog on the 
> site. So two hours later see:
> For Architectural Review Policies: Plan-Implement-Measure
> I keep writing emails because they are faster but sometimes a blog entry is 
> more widely useful.
> Sharon

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