Re: Contents of Cohousing-L Digest, Vol 208, Issue 14
From: Mary Huang (
Date: Mon, 17 May 2021 04:31:54 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Janey,

I am part of Concorde Cohousing in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

How many units do you intend to build?  what style of housing?

There was a group of 10 cohousing groups that jumped on Victoria Urban
cohousing outreach event cohousing affordability and we had a breakout room
(vs another for the people interested to join VUV) to talk a bit about how
to keep cohousing projects cost more moderate and some discussion of a few
communities that attempted to do below market rate units.  I also exchanged
emails with a number of cohousing groups in April and had some very
interesting discussions.   Some and other groups were at the Canadian
Cohousing Network AGM that afternoon.

One of the advice I was given was to create as many multipurpose rooms as
possible and to keep the shared space under 2500-3000 sq. feet.  Upon
closer discussion the person and I refined it to be max 100-150 sq feet per
household depending on the size of households since cohousing communities
in Canada vary from 7 to 40+ and we have one in development in Ottawa for
only 4 units for 4 existing friends.  Remember, cohousing common space
needs to be paid for and the per square feet building cost of the whole
building needs to be fully loaded on the total of square feet of the units
so any corridors and common space gets loaded on your units per square feet
cost.  That is sometimes not factored in for people not familiar with the
development process and Ithink that may have led at least 1 group I know to
fail.  If you are building an apartment / condo style building, typically
corridors and lobby are around 10%ish of the total build area and the
common space can add another 10-15% to the cost and if so that is 25%
higher.  I.e. your builder quotes you $400/sq. ft for the whole building it
would translate to $500/sq. feet for units on a 25% extra space or 20% of
total space being shared common area and corridors. Also common space needs
operating costs (lights, etc.), repairs and capital reserve funds to be
factored in.

A condo I was renting before had a nice party room.  I am guessing it is
around 1000 sq ft with living room area and kitchen/dining room and the
capacity was 32 people and this was pre-covid.  So 1200 might be barely in
the lower end of your range of 40-50 people.  I think your designer is
underestimating the amount of space required for 40-50 people a little
considering we are under covid and might want a bit more social
distancing.  You need to think of the dining section of common space and an
architect grad I know said there are some massing  / space required
formulas for that but I suspect that was not updated for COVID.

I think a lot of condo party rooms are not used that often due to cost and
difficulty of booking but some I know that are free on first come 1st
served are often booked and that may have impacted your designer's
thinking.  In a cohousing community most of the common space are free and
try to encourage neighbours to encounter each other and interact which is
foreigh to a lot of regular designers/ developers.

You would want some guest suite(s) and it might be useful to have a meeting
room that can be used for something else too, maybe it can be a dining area
too for group meals.  We had talked about shared laundry and maybe a kids
playing area that is well sound proofed if you are doing a
multigenerational community.  Some community have a multipurpose room that
can be used for exercise classes and movie nights and other together time.

Hope this starts a good discussion.


---------- Forwarded message ---------   2. Statistics on common house
usage (Janey Harper)


Message: 2
Date: Sun, 16 May 2021 18:52:48 -0700
From: "Janey Harper" <jkharper [at]>
To: <cohousing-l [at]>
Cc: <jkharper [at]>
Subject: [C-L]_ Statistics on common house usage


Content-Type: text/plain;       charset="us-ascii"


First question:

I'm currently working on a project that will be built in Sechelt BC.  The
designer/developer I'm working with would like to see some statistics on how
much the community kitchen/dining room/lounge area REALLY gets used in
cohousing communities.

Could anyone help me find such statistics?

Chuck Durrett has always posited that communities sharing meals 3-4 times a
week are more connected, so my goal is a K/DR/L space large enough to allow
for the entire community to be together in comfort for meals 3-4x a week,
and for all other whole community gatherings.  We're guessing a population
of 40-50.

Second question:

My designer/developer is suggesting that 1200 square feet is adequate for
the K/DR/L common amenities space (+ bathroom).   The 1200 sq. fit is within
an 18' x 66' rectangle, with windows/doors/patio doors along one of the 18'
sides.  I think we should "take over" the unit next door and design this
part of the common amenities along a, twice-as-wide, 36' side with twice the
view and exterior ground access.   This would give us a total of 1825 square
feet and allow us to use the extra interior space for ..???

Would appreciate any feedback/comments.


The Coastal Village


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