Re: Inter-generational age-in-place co-housing communities - are there any out there?
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2015 09:49:34 -0700 (PDT)
I wrote ... "Design and live in the thing YOU want ..."  I will stand firmly 
behind this advice, but also embellish it a bit.

I once designed a gut rehab condo for an "open plan" couple who wanted the 
"master bath" to be fully a part of the "master bedroom" space — that is, one 
big room containing bed and plumbing fixtures.  ???  Clearly, this wouldn't 
work for most couples — but the client is the client, and it's not for me to 
impose my norms, or what I understand as community norms, on their design 
preferences.  However, I did find a way to design it in their preference, but 
such that it was pretty easy to isolate a "normal" bathroom from the "normal" 
bedroom by the future addition of one wall and door.  No demo or relocation of 
plumbing required.

So here is my point, embellished a bit:
     (1) Design and live in the thing YOU want.  This may be your one and only 
opportunity to make something that's exactly right for you.  But ...
     (2) If you are designing units for others on spec — that is, for future 
buyers you've not yet met — then "market  middle" designs are the obvious 
     (3) Renovation happens frequently when residential units change hands, and 
bit of clever design anticipation can often enhance the future adaptability of 
a space.  And finally ...
     (4) Do not imagine that you can expertly predict exactly what a future 
purchaser of your unit will want.  You may be horrified to learn that the nice 
couple to whom you sold your beloved coho unit promptly ripped out the wall 
between your bedroom and your master bath.

Philip Dowds

PS:  When did Mosaic Commons start construction?  Not 2007, I hope ...

> On Sep 30, 2015, at 12:47 PM, Diana Carroll <dianaecarroll [at]> 
> wrote:
> Not sure I agree with this advice. At very least don't take it too
> literally. Here at Mosaic Commons the hopeful owners of each unit type (5
> types in total) got together to design the unit interiors. (With the
> architect).  Only about half the units were sold at that point, so the
> designs reflected the personal wishes of just a few households. As such,
> the designs have some...quirks. (I ended up in a smaller unit than
> originally planned, therefore I was not on the design team for my unit
> type. And
> though I love my home, there are some design choices that make me scratch
> my head)
> It took us 6 painful, expensive years after construction was complete to
> sell all our units. That certainly wasn't primarily because of the unit
> designs, to be sure, but absolutely do not take advice that suggests that
> marketability is not an important concern
> Diana
> On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]>
> wrote:
>> There is available construction technology — gypcrete floors, double-stud
>> walls, etc — for minimizing the negatives of units sharing walls or
>> floor/ceilings.  A little "expensive", perhaps, but not nearly as expensive
>> as the single family stand-alone.  Or the duplex.
>> My other piece of advice is ... Design and live in the thing YOU want, not
>> the thing you imagine will be easy to sell to people you don't know.  You
>> can safely presume that in most cases, there are others coming after you
>> who are similar to you, and will be thrilled at a chance to buy your unit;
>> you just have to have good system for finding them.
>> Philip Dowds
>>>> On Sep 30, 2015, at 1:51 AM, Muriel Kranowski <murielk [at]
>>> <javascript:;>> wrote:
>>> I remember this discussion from our site design process in 2000-2001. Our
>>> civil engineering firm proposed one 4-plex of stacked flats - two on each
>>> level, with all the other units being duplexes and stand-alones. No-one
>> in
>>> that initial group (about half of the ultimate set of homeowners) was
>>> interested in living under or over someone, and it was said, probably
>>> correctly, that they would be very hard to sell in our local market.
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