Re: architects and developers
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 08:58:12 -0700 (MST)

On Tuesday, November 18, 2003, at 10:13 AM, Racheli Gai wrote:

 I keep wishing we had a REALLY GOOD
local architect (not the "affordable" one chosen).  Every time my house
overheats because of the shape/size/location of my South Windows (and the
lack of a sufficient overhang) - this thought comes to mind.
Using a permaculture consultant (both to comment/advise on architectural
plans as well on site/land use) is something I highly recommend.

We were able to get a grant from HUD ($36,000?) for a green architecture consultant who worked with the developer and architect.

Green architecture was difficult all the way down the line, however, because so few of the subcontractors had any experience or understanding of the differences between their normal products and methods and those specified as green. Our project has essentially be built twice -- once the wrong way then ripped out and redone. We had several consultants overseeing various aspects of building.

It was a very complicated process with layers and layers of supervision but we did get an Energy Star rated project with 43 units and a large commonhouse started and finished in two years. It has taken another three years to work out all the kinks but we at least were moved in as we are working them out (leaking basement walls, drain spouts that don't quite drain, etc.), The very first informational meeting was convened by Ann Zabaldo on October 5, 1998 (Founder's Day) and the first members moved in late November 2000 with everyone in by early spring 2001.

Ann had been contacted by a developer, Don Tucker, who had a option on a piece of property that he thought might be a good cohousing project. He had just heard about cohousing but had successfully built something like 35 multifamily dwellings, and Ann was then connected to Liberty Village and knew a lot about it.

Do we have a project that will go down in the annals of green architecture history or be placed on a tour of innovative interior desing? No, but we got built with affordable housing in a incredibly manageable length of time.

To hit the ground running with land identified, a developer in tow, and an experienced cohousing person right there was a fabulous way to get started. What we need as an association is a way to make this available to groups all over the country -- yes, the world, but I'm being conservative today.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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