Re: Rental Cohousing?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2008 08:06:32 -0800 (PST)

On Jan 13, 2008, at 4:05 PM, Ed and/or Kathryn Belzer wrote:

Please elaborate, if you have the energy to do so, or point me in the
right direction to learn what you wish you had known.

Research materials and infrastructure design and requirements. These will be different for each community and the zoning requirements will vary by city. They are each technical so there is no main source that I know of -- and I certainly am not an expert. None include in one place operations and capacity, cost, and maintenance.

What I would do is talk to property managers who are managing properties similar to yours. Even join the local property managers association so you can rub elbows with them at dinner. No one else is going to sit around and discuss drainage systems or increases in elevator inspection fees. Property managers are like the Consumer Reports in property management. They may be biased and they may have a narrow view but they know what doesn't work and what is harder to maintain.

Join the local chapter of the US Green Building Association, if you can. You can learn from people who use them which materials are worth the effort and cost down the road.

Think ahead to use and maintenance. Visit similar spaces with large groups of people and kids. We have a two story ceiling in our dining room. Every architect who walks in thinks it is wonderful. It is a noise trap. We have spent $5000 on acoustics and some of us still can't hear ourselves think in the room and avoid events with kids. There is just too much open space and it encourages running, jumping, and yelling. And ball throwing. Even 10 kids, and we have 20, means having dinner, for me, in a gymnasium. Parents seem to be used to it.

A bad example of poor planning is an example I recently heard of a theater with three story ceilings. The original theater was designed in the 1920s with ceiling lights that could be changed from the attic. In recent architectural renovations, the architect replaced these lights with ones that can only be changed from the interior. Every time they want to change a light, they have to get out a three story ladder. You can imagine not only how difficult that is but dangerous as well.

If you have a high ceiling, where do you place the return air vent so you can clean it without renting scaffolding? Or place the lights so you can clean the globes or change the bulbs? We wish we had more sconces instead of so much overhead lighting.

Architects think about space, not maintenance. How do you clean that beautiful carpet? How often will that wall surface need to be cleaned?

That's all I know,

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing,Washington DC

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