Re: Regarding Affordability in Cohousing - not just cohousing but it IS possible
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2016 09:18:38 -0700 (PDT)
> On Aug 21, 2016, at 8:21 AM, Liz Ryan Cole <lizryancole [at]> wrote:
>  For anyone considering new construction of any sort, you will do well to 
> build for $180 per sf or less (and that takes modular construction options 
> into account).  In addition to the actual construction of your unit and the 
> common space, you have to pay for site work, not to mention actually buying 
> the land you will be building on. 

Thanks to Liz for laying out all the costs and influences on them. Of course it 
is important to continue to work toward changes in the way we govern and tax 
ourselves on a macro scale. Another way is to work on the micro scale. 

The minimalist lifestyle is one of them. How I wish I could get to it! I can’t 
remember where I saw this story but the person doesn’t have a home at all. He 
stays here and there, and has a suitcase, a computer, and a cellphone.

It takes a group of similar thinkers to develop a community like this. One 
thing we have found is that when people started having children they wanted 
more storage space. The initial commitment to downsize — many people were 
living in conventional large houses — doesn’t seem to be a value once people 
are moved in. The process doesn’t continue. 

It isn’t living with less, it’s less living with too much. But really, it is 
looking at different technologies too. Most of us like our technologies like 
real toilets and large beds that are not also sofas. Then garbage disposals and 
dishwashers. And five burner stoves and two kinds of ovens. Double ovens. 

For ideas, search YouTube for “small house” and “small space architecture.” The 
small architecture videos include several on prefabricated houses that can be 
delivered “in a box” and "unfolded.” The zoning banning small houses is often 
because they are of poor quality. Small house equals shack. They lower the 
value and desirability of living next to them. So quality is the issue, not 
size. Size is just the seemingly obvious way of regulating quality.

It might actually be easier to rehab an apartment building but this is outside 
the financial ability of those who are looking for low cost housing. It 
requires upfront  money to rehab because you are still living in another space. 
One feature of small living spaces is light and sight line. Being able to see 
beyond the wall 5 ft in front of yourself. That’s is hard to get in an apt 

It has to be a way of going around the limitations. It’s taken 30 years for 
cohousing to become even known. We don’t hear as much about zoning “no”s as 
much as we did. Problems but not so serious.

I can’t find good google search terms that bring up the more radical housing 
ideas but radical housing brought up this article. When cohousing started 
sustainable and green were radical ideas.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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