Re: Handmade Houses
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 11:18:01 -0600 (MDT)
On 4/27/2003 12:05 PM, "Tricia Bowler-Archambault" <tricia.bowler [at]>

> One of my reasons for looking into co-housing was to see how it may fit my
> values and concerns for the high cost of housing.  Many people are working
> to pay for housing.  There is nothing wrong with that if you do not sense
> any other purpose on this planet.  But if you do, there is frustration in
> spending significant hours working to pay the mortgage or rent.  Building
> homes ourselves, with local materials, is one way to bring the costs down.
> I am interested to know if others have any thoughts about this in relation
> to the high cost of co-housing development.

I was also disappointed that the process of getting housing built was so
long and arduous, and there were not teams of people ready to design and
construct innovative architecture. One of the attractions of cohousing is
that it is a community of many households but this is also one of its
limitations -- a very complex construction project. Unless you build it the
"normal" way there is no way to either get permission to build or to get
help constructing it.

The project in Florida, where a lot of  cheap construction is done, had many
neo-traditional cost-saving features but people wouldn't pay up front for
features that saved money down the line -- not even those that protected
against hurricane damage! In DC some of the features that were supposed to
have been cost saving and energy efficient turned out to be costly because
the subcontractors had not a clue what they were doing. And all the zoning
requirements and permits cost tons of money and time.

In the 1970s a friend who built a geodesic dome had trouble getting a bank
loan because she only needed $14,000. They refused to do a mortgage on any
house that cost less than $30,000. She finally borrowed $30,000, built her
house for $14,000, bought a new car, and paid $10,000 back on her mortgage.

Social change is harder than moving mountains.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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