Re: Cohousing architectural design input request
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Fri, 1 Jul 2016 05:20:10 -0700 (PDT)
Alicia —

The multiple bathroom configuration you describe is certainly how many or most 
American households prefer to live.  A compromise might be just two fixtures 
(sink and toilet) on the first or “living” floor, if there are no sleeping 
rooms on this floor … but then, there is often a “den” or “office” which might 
evolve into a bedroom under some circumstances.  Money, of course, can be a 
constraint, and bathrooms, per square foot, are the most expensive rooms in 
your unit.
     Common bathrooms, in the common house or elsewhere, aren’t typically too 
useful in accommodating ordinary household bathroom needs or desires.  My wife 
and I live in the common house, in a 1,000 sq ft flat having a single bathroom. 
 On very rare occasions, we have re-deployed to a common house toilet room, but 
this certainly isn’t part of our normal daily routine.

Because of extensive shared common facilities, cohousing dwelling units tend to 
be (a) smaller than conventional market units, and (b) more costly on a square 
foot or per bedroom basis.  When you have access to communal guest rooms, or a 
shared arts and crafts room, or a shared exercise room, you simply don’t need 
as much privatized space in your personal dwelling unit.  In terms of market 
economics, people tend to commit a fixed portion of their household incomes to 
housing.  In the conventional market, your housing dollar buys you more 
privatized space; in the cohousing market, for the same money, you get less 
personal space, and more shared amenity.  Each household makes its own decision 
about which mix and lifestyle is optimum.  But there is no reason to expect 
that cohousing living is “cheaper” than conventional.

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA
> On Jun 30, 2016, at 11:02 AM, Alicia DeLashmutt <aliciadelashmutt [at] 
>> wrote:
> Hello, this is my first post, so I hope I'm doing this correctly...
> I'm helping to bring together an inclusive, diverse community in Portland,
> Oregon called Our Home.  We are in the design process now and I have a
> couple of questions for those of you that have either designed a cohousing
> community or are living in community  Any feedback is welcome.  You can
> email me directly at aliciadelashmutt [at] if you prefer.
> Thank you in advance!
> 1. bathrooms - the typical condo market in Portland (according to our real
> estate broker)  supports a full bathroom on every level (if the unit is a
> multi-level dwelling) and en-suite bathrooms for the master bedroom (with
> an additional bathroom available to the other bedrooms on that level).  Is
> the same approach taken typically for cohousing?  My gut reaction is that
> this takes up a lot of interior real-estate and has high build-out costs
> and that cohousers might be more inclined to share and perhaps have fewer
> facilities, but that is not founded on any data or experience.  Do you have
> thoughts around this?
> 2. Market value / bank appraisal.  Is it your experience that cohousing
> units are priced comparably to typical condo units on the market or are a
> bit higher / lower in price because of their shared spaces and set-up?  Do
> bank appraisals back this?
> Best,
> Alicia DeLashmutt
> -- 
> “In the long history of humankind those who learned to collaborate
> and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”  Charles Darwin
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