Re: Rental of rooms or Air BnBs?
From: Philip Dowds (
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2019 07:26:37 -0800 (PST)
A couple of additional considerations:

Sprinklers, if you can afford them, are safety systems highly effective in 
protecting both life and property.  Fully sprinklered buildings often get 
significant breaks on their property insurance, so it’s possible that a 
sprinkler system might “pay for itself” after a number of years.  It’s worth 
checking out.

More to the point:  The practicality of renting out your commons may depend in 
part on the design of your property.  I know of one community in an urban 
neighborhood that collects five-figure money annually for renting out the 
commons as a kind of multi-purpose community center — BUT … the site and 
building design place this commons on a street frontage with a “back” door, 
such that visitors can come and go without traveling through the private 
greenspace and “front” door on the opposite side.  At Cornerstone, the only way 
into the common house is through our most important central outdoor commons, so 
regular “outsider” events would have a big impact on community life.

Finally, there’s a big difference between between hosting daytime events versus 
renting beds for overnight accommodation of strangers.  My personal opinion is 
that the former is worth looking into, and the latter is a can of worms.  If 
you really want your community to enjoy an income stream from running a 
micro-hotel, you should try a design where the hotel is very clearly isolated 
from the community commons.  (And Mr Margulis is right: Local public officials 
will be taking a very strong interest in your hotel business …)

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

mobile: 617.460.4549
email:   rpdowds [at]

> On Jan 27, 2019, at 8:47 AM, Dick Margulis <dick [at]> wrote:
> On 1/26/2019 5:08 PM, Linda Smith wrote:
>> We're currently looking
>> into the possibility of receiving income from renting out the large space
>> in our common house for events and/or guest rooms like an Air BnB type
>> arrangement.
> Before you go too far down that path, talk with the attorney who is going to 
> help you get through your local zoning process. You may find that there's no 
> problem with your plan. You may discover an insurmountable obstacle, such as 
> an outright prohibition on including a guest room (we hit that wall). Or 
> anything in between.
> For example, if your local health department or building official insists 
> that such uses mean your common house is classified as a commercial building, 
> then you may find that your state fire code requires a sprinkler system in 
> order for the building to include overnight accommodations; and this 
> sprinkler system may, in turn, prove too costly for your group to justify it 
> based on projected guest room revenue.
> Dick Margulis
> Rocky Corner
> Bethany CT
> Still some homes available
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