RE: Handmade Houses
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 20:39:02 -0600 (MDT)
Tricia Bowler- Archambault asked, 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.

There are a growing number of Lot-development cohousing projects. This model
creates lots upon which individual owners finance and build their own homes.
If you do this with the idea of variety and affordability in mind, then
owner building is an obvious pathway for some folks. At Sharingwood we have
4 owner built homes out of 24, with a fifth owner built home under way. The
total cost of the 5th house is projected at $65,000. This is still
expensive, but much less than the $490,000 price tag on one of the homes
here. There are 7 no-mortgage homes here, which include all of the owner
built homes.

The difficulty of this model is the prolonged period of building.
Sharingwood first house went in in the year 1987 and we still have 4 unbuilt
but owned lots. It also takes some thought and capital planning to have a
commonhouse. We built our commonhouse ourselves (mostly anyway, we hired out
some of it). This also seems to not work in urban areas and its hard to find
developable land in competition with professional real estate developers in
areas which are growing. We were very fortunate in that the land was
purchased in the early 1980's when 40 acre parcels were possible. The price
was low and if we did this starting today I doubt it would work as the lot
costs would be way too high because the land values have skyrocketed here.

Rob Sandelin
South Snohomish County at the headwaters of Ricci Creek
Sky Valley Environments  <>
Field skills training for student naturalists
Floriferous [at]

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