Re: Any urban cohousing architects out there?
From: Craig Ragland (
Date: Tue, 4 May 2010 07:46:34 -0700 (PDT)
See below

On Tue, May 4, 2010 at 5:39 AM, Ann Zabaldo <zabaldo [at]> wrote:
> Diana and all --
> The issue is not so much the "cohousing" piece -- it's the "multi-
> family" piece that you need to worry about.  This is the BIG knowledge
> base.  All the requirements for construction are going to be local
> requirements so it's important that you have someone who understands
> the local codes and regulations.

It is critical to understand that working with forming groups to
design and create "housing" is indeed not the same as designing and
creating "homes." Some architects who are inexperienced with Cohousing
have worked very hard with forming groups to try and address the
individual needs of the then-present families on an individual basis.

The architect which Songaia Cohousing used designed 13 custom homes as
the first version of our duplexes, they were great, but far more
expensive than we could afford. This was an expensive mistake that no
Cohousing architect would have made. The greatest expense was that we
lost almost half our members when the saw the pricing - they lost
faith in the project and the groups ability to get new, more
affordable designs.

I have a different opinion than Ann about the value of Cohousing
Architects. The process used by experienced Cohousing architects helps
the GROUP accomplish community-focused goals. They understand that
they are getting involved in a GROUP process, rather than working with
a single client.

As stated in my other email, many Cohousing professionals (including
architects) have successfully traveled into other areas for projects.
To be successful, they have made the appropriate adjustments required
for local codes and regulations. This is something that they learn how
to do quite capably as they work on projects outside of their local

> It's the DEVELOPER you should be
> concerned in finding.
> If you want the best of both worlds suggest you use a two tiered
> system:  an architect w/ cohousing experience and a local DEVELOPER
> who has the multi family development experience.  Developers know the
> zoning, construction and a myriad of other development requirements.

Another approach is to hire an experienced Cohousing developer who
will consult with a local developer, or your group, should you either
choose to (or have to) self-develop. Today, the majority of built
Cohousing communities have been self-developed. Some communities have
tried very hard to find a multi-family housing developer who is
willing to take risks with them on their projects. This may well be
easier today than it was a few years ago, as there are far fewer real
estate development projects due to the challenges of obtaining

If the "developer" is not taking any risk on your project, then they
are a "development consultant."

Development consultants make most of their money by working on your
project whether or not your community is successfully developed. That
is, since they are effectively being paid for their time and you will
assume all of the financial risk for the project.

Once again, some experienced Cohousing developers in multiple states.
While local development knowledge is required, this can be learned,
and some have already proven their ability to do this.

Looking in the Cohousing Professional Directory you can find
experienced Cohousing Developers.

Craig Ragland
Coho/US Exec. Dir.

> Best --
> Ann Zabaldo
> Takoma Village Cohousing
> Washington, DC
> Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
> Falls Church VA
> 703 663 3911
> On May 3, 2010, at 7:52 PM, Diana Fox wrote:
>> Our cohousing community has purchased land in downtown Durham, NC
>> and is in the process of evaluating architects, but we're having
>> trouble finding local architects with urban, multi-family cohousing
>> experience.
>> Does anyone have recommendations on how best to handle this?
>> -Diana
>> Durham Central Park Cohousing Community
>> Durham, NC
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