Re: Cohousing architectural design input request
From: Tiffany Lee Brown (
Date: Fri, 1 Jul 2016 11:37:17 -0700 (PDT)
Thanks for keeping this conversation public on the list -- it is fascinating to 
read. I grew up next to a rural community where people lived in small, mostly 
off-book unofficial dwellings including tree houses and yurts, then shared 
bathroom facilities at a central house. It certainly worked for showers, which 
one only uses once a day, but especially the women tired of not having a 
personal toilet. 

Do any of the sustainability-focused cohousing communities encourage use of 
self composting toilets for water conservation? 

Wannabe-cohouser in Central Oregon

Sent from the far shores of a distant land

> On Jul 1, 2016, at 5:20 AM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]> wrote:
> 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.
> Thanks,
> 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
>> The attached email should be considered confidential and not forwarded
>> without permission.
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