Re: Exercise in custom home design or exercise in community?
From: Howard Landman (
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 17:21:04 -0700 (MST)
> Is it really taken as a given by most cohousing group members that they
> will be able to have their own custom-designed house? Was this ever
> discussed among the prospective members before joining the group? Or was it
> just taken as a given?

I don't know about others, but I both *wanted* to customize some aspects of
my unit, and also felt *forced* to customize due to decisions in the default
designs which seemed completely brain-dead to me.  (I follow Pattern Language
for the most part and will simply name patterns below.)

What I wanted that required customization:
        - a really nice shower with two (low-flow) shower heads
          and thermostatic control
        - glass block (including in the shower)
        - built in conduit for future networking expansion
        - high quality wood floor (Kahrs)
        - built-in reading lights on the wall over the bed
        - built-in bookshelves in living room
        - built-in ironing board
        - some adaptations for my height (I'm 6'7", 202 cm)
        - gas stove
        - Windows Between Rooms
        - Pools Of Light
        - Waist High Shelf outside front door

What I was forced to do:
        - rotate kitchen 90 degrees
                - implement Farmhouse Kitchen
                - implement Entry Room
                - fix the Intimacy Gradient
                - add a Waist High Shelf
        - add more storage space

Some things (like separating Couple's Realm from Children's Realm) were
achievable within the default choices (in that case by choosing "finished
basement").  Other things (like Six Foot Balcony) came already built-in.
Still others (like Connected Parking and Light On Two Sides Of Every Room)
were forbidden and could not be had at any price.  (Parking lots were at
the ends of the complex; and I was not allowed to put any window of any kind
in the firewall separating my unit from its neighbors, not even a 90-minute
fire rated one.)

Note for anyone else who's enamored of glass block - we had a very good
experience with the IBP metal framing system.  It ended up being around
*half* the cost of having a mason do it, *and* it has the advantage that
each block can easily be replaced with no tools other than a utility knife
and some silicone seal.  The cost wasn't much more than a standard window
of the same size.  From the builder's point of view, it was much like
installing a standard window.

As an aside, it seems to me that the most community-oriented customization
has to do with landscaping, not the interiors of units.

        Howard Landman

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