Re: How big is too big (for a house)
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:26:50 -0700 (PDT)
> On Mar 22, 2017, at 11:04 AM, Jacob Machina <jakemachina [at]> 
> wrote:
> One interested member would like to build substantially larger than the
> currently envisioned largest home (would ideally be ~3500 sq ft) to support
> having a multi-generational single family home with enough space to suit
> their tastes (they currently live in a 5000 sq ft house in a very nice
> neighborhood).

It’s hard to generalize about cohousing but in general a large house with small 
houses willl be less valuable than a big house on a big house street. Just like 
a small house in a neighborhood of big houses will be worth more than other 
houses the same size in other neighborhoods — partly because the land is more 
valuable than the house. 

But cohousing is different. We have 2 units that are large — four bedrooms, one 
very large, more like a family room, 3.5 baths, and a full basement. They are 
next door to one bedrooms and three bedrooms. I haven’t seen any jealousy or 
problems with this. I don’t think cohousers think in those terms or they 
wouldn’t be cohousers. 

We do have people who only want a large unit. They have several children, need 
an office, etc. Ours have not often been available.

In terms of the house fitting in with the neighborhood, I would suggest 
designing it so it looks like 2-3 units instead of a McMansion. Think of the 
house in three cubes. And design it so it can be easily converted to 2-3 units 
when this household moves.

At Loudon County EcoVillage at least some of the units were built with an 
apartment downstairs. It can be an entertainment center, a guest room, or an 
apartment. It could also be rented. I think something like that would be 
universally useful.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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