Cohousing Construction Costs
From: Chris ScottHanson (
Date: Sat, 10 Nov 2001 16:25:02 -0700 (MST)
on 10/28/01 9:23 PM, hp at harryp [at] wrote:

> A group in Canada is thinking about a cohousing neighborhood. They asked me
> if a cohousing project had been done using Avi Friedman's Grow Home or Next
> Home system(s). They are intrigued with the $40,000 per unit construction
> costs. Anyone know if a cohousing project has been done using the Grow Home
> or Next Home system?
> As well does anyone know what the average cost of designing and building a
> cohousing unit (construction only - not including land and infrastructure
> costs) has been for the last three years. Thanks in advance.
> - Harry

We have found that the cost of the buildings from the ground up (townhouses
and/or duplex style), not including land, soft costs, common house or
infrastructure, has averaged about U$65 per square foot recently.  This does
include some green, some higher quality sound, heat, etc. It does not
include much wood work or trim. I find that most groups choose to leave out
the new appliances, too.  This average cost has increased over the past 10
years from about U$45 per square foot.  This is not the same cost for the
construction of single family homes, or for the sweat equity construction of
your own home.  These numbers are for slightly specialized production
housing with significant standardization, a limited number of unit types,
and no customization.

It is very important to note that these numbers vary from market to market.
New York City is the highest in the US and Canada at 34% higher than the
average, Murphy NC is the lowest at 34% below average.  Interesting that
they balance.  See R. S. Means cost estimating for more data on your
specific area.  

A few samples for residential cost factors with 1.00 being the average for
the US and Canada, 1.10 being 10% higher than average, and .90 being 10%
lower than average, etc:
  1.34 - New York NY
  1.30 - Flushing NY, Berkeley CA, Honolulu HI
  1.20 - White Plains NY, San Francisco CA
  1.10 - Vancouver WA, Lawrence MA, North Bay ONTARIO, Montreal QUEBEC
  1.00 - Decatur IL, Lansing MI, Seattle WA, Akron OH
   .90 - Boulder CO, Waterloo IA, Fort Wayne IN, Annapolis MD
   .80 - Charleston NH, Austin TX, Winchester VA, Williston ND
   .70 - Del Rio TX, Jackson TN, Beaufort SC, Guymon OK
   .66 - Murphy NC, Rock Hill SC

Note that these factors DO NOT correlate to housing PRICES directly. The
wise and mobile developer would go and build where costs are lower and
prices are higher, like Boulder CO. And of course this changes over time.

Average cohousing dwelling unit sizes in the U.S. seem to be running about
1100 SF, not including a share of the common house.  Smaller in urban
locations, larger in rural locations.  I wonder if Stella's research has
turned up any more accurate data?

Therefore, the average cohousing dwelling unit in the average town would
cost about $71,500 to build, + common house share, + infrastructure, + land,
+ soft costs.  Full cost on the low end should be double the $71k, or about
$143,000.  On the high end this goes all the way up to about 4 times that
$71k, or $284,000.  The huge variation is dependant on cost of land, carry
costs, permit fees, financing and carry costs, etc.

As a rule, new construction of housing costs 45% to about 55% of the total
cost of the project.  In a few cases a little lower, and in some a little
higher still.  Land costs are generally in the range of 10% to 30% of total
cost of project.  Permits cost 1% to 5%.  Financing 4% to 8%, Etc, Etc.

Sorry if this was more than you ever wanted to know...

Chris ScottHanson

Cohousing Resources, LLC
Ecovillage, Cohousing & Sustainable Communities
Development and Consulting

email:          Chris [at]
web site:

9813 NE Murden Cove Dr.
Bainbridge Island, WA  98110

(206)842-9203 FAX

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