Re: Affordable Cohousing, Renters vs Owners
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2008 12:44:08 -0800 (PST)
On Jan 14, 2008, at 2:35 PM, tom shea wrote:

whether to develop single family or joined units (i.e. shared walls and roofs vs stand alone homes) which way would you want to go? Why? Would you design all units or allow individuals to design build (assuming stand alone homes)?

I had lived in both single family homes and in apartments so I was clear that I wanted an apartment style building. I didn't want the hassle of a free standing home that I was fully responsible for or the distance from my neighbors. Contrary to popular opinion, in regular condos people develop relationships with their neighbors and do take care of each of other even when they may not socialize together.

Attached units mean closer proximity. That means more neighbor to neighbor contact, greater independence for children, more energy efficiency, and the ability to get to the commonhouse easily.

My neighbors can pop in at any time without walking across two yards or, in most instances, the one or two blocks that separate the units at either side of the community. My neighbor even comes in to find her keys instead of standing outside her door in the cold.

Children from the age of 3 can go from one unit to another or to the Common house to mail a letter, giving them a great sense of independence.

All the energy efficient advantages of adjoined units. Less exposure to the elements.

Many of our units are attached to the commonhouse so we can go there without going out in the rain or wearing coats.

Smaller households can have smaller units. People don't normally build small houses although they could.

Attached dwellings cost less to build.

IMPT: if you build attached units, particularly one of top of the other, put in excellent sound barriers. You will be happy you did. One reason people prefer single family houses is not having to worry about noise -- theirs or others.

Lot development model -- I would suspect that if you build all the houses at the same time there would be economy in having many standard features so the builder would have lower costs and less confusion in construction.

If you build them one at a time, allowing a range of designs is more possible. People on the list seem to have a variety of preferences about whether the design should be controlled or completely free.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing,Washington DC

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