Re: Metering costs
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 11 Mar 2021 11:34:48 -0800 (PST)
> On Mar 10, 2021, at 10:31 PM, KAREN A CARLSON via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l 
> [at]> wrote:
> I wish we had metered everything. I think it teaches us to be more aware of 
> our use. 

In 2019 they single person households were the second largest proportion of 
households—28 percent. In DC, where we are, the number is 44%. For potlucks, a 
4 person household would bring 1 dish, and single people would bring 1 dish. If 
they had children they often brought something the children would like. The 
couple without children viewed themselves as a one unit. One person brings a 
dish for 6-8 and two people bring a dish for 6-8.

One of the fastest growing demographics is single women over 65. It sounds puny 
to argue the point, but the share of bundled expenses falls unequally on older 
women. Men don’t live so long. After a lifetime of lower wages, and thus lower 
retirement funding, their expenses are the same as households with twice as 
many people and often children as well.

There are all kinds of reasons given why larger units with more people 
shouldn’t have to pay proportionately more — they are younger, just getting 
started; they have children; we wouldn’t be able to sell the large units if 
they had to pay more, etc. The same reasons used to justify paying women less — 
he has a wife and children. He is the sole breadwinner. Forget it that women 
often were too, because she could get married if she wanted to earn more money. 
It’s her fault she's single.

I don’t want to sound as if I am complaining or starting a long thread on this, 
but it is something to think about when making decisions about condo fees and 
utilities. "We are all the same and we support each other" feels magnanimous at 
the beginning, but it means unequal distribution of assets for a long time.

As Phillip said it is also difficult to track small payments for this and that. 
Better to work out condo fees based on something that equalizes tthe costs per 
person and/or size of unit. It will never be perfect and always an estimate. 
But when units range from a 615 SF flat with no balcony or yard space to a 3 
story unit with 4 bedrooms 2.5 baths and a full basement with I don’t know how 
many SF the range in costs per unit is pretty wide.

For example, we just replaced all our indoor sprinkler heads. Small units had 5 
and the largest units had 26. At $25 a per head the range would be from $125 to 
$650 per unit. There are three units under the same roof size in some places 
and 1 unit in others. So the roof for each flat has  1/3 the roofing costs of a 
3-story unit. Shouldn’t they pay 3 times more? 

Again, I don’t mean to start an argument about this but just pointing out how 
much the larger units cost the community to maintain than the smaller units. 
I’ve only become aware of the full extent of this as we hit the 20-year mark 
and start having large replacement costs. At first it isn’t so obvious.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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