Common amenities usage and square footage allocations
From: Janey Harper (
Date: Mon, 24 May 2021 14:32:43 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Ann,


Thank you so much for all your info.  I'm pleased to say that we are not
planning for any unreachable windows :)

I sent an email to Rebecca, and even though I have yet to receive an answer
from her, I found her study of CH usage to be very useful.


With responses from several architects and many community residents, II am
now well-armed for discussions with our architect.




Janey ?pasted into this email is the summary from a study of CH usage by
Rebecca Disbrow in 2011.  I don?t have the full study.  I believe she found
the CH to be unused most of the time (people are at work during the day) it
gets most of its use from dinners, meetings, tv watching but most of the
time it?s empty.  I always thought renting out our space for small workshops
during daytime hours would be a good synergistic use but some folks believe
the liability is too much.  Someone connected w/ the Cohousing Research
Network may have the full study.


In addition to CH ?use" I would also consider CH cleaning, maintenance and
repair.  We have a lovely CH at Takoma Village in Washington, DC.  BIG 2
story height DR, Sun room, fireplace area.  We have to hire a cheery picker
to clean the lights in the main DR.  


Windows are wonderful.  They let in lots of light plus you can see folks
outside and the folks outside can see who is in the CH.  We love our
windows.  But they are a b - - - h to clean.  I know because as a power
wheelchair user, I wash the lower 2/3rds of them on Workdays.  There are
whole sets of them I cannot access.  And it still takes me over an hour to
wash the ones I can reach.  Another neighbor does the upper part of the
windows and doors I clean plus all the ones I can?t reach.  Some of them are
simply inaccessible because they are at the top of the 2nd story open space.
Thankfully we only clean those when the cheery picker shows up.  All the
double hung windows have screens which we haven?t washed in ?  I don?t know
if they?ve ever been washed. And don?t forget ? windows and glass doors have
to be washed inside and outside.  Two glass doors = 4 surfaces.  Plus
outside the CH we have 4 fire doors w/ glass framed in the majority of the
door surface. 


I tried to write up an inventory of doors and windows and gave up.  So I
inventoried just 4 areas and came up w/ this:   in the entrance to the CH,
the workshop, the Tween Room  and Sun room I count 4 doors w/ sidelights, 21
double hung windows ? the does not include the exterior facing windows of
the workshop which I estimate is another 5-7 windows.   Plus because we are
in a historic preservation area all doors facing out to the street have to
maintain historic requirements.  This means our out facing doors are divided
into 15 smaller squares on both sides of the door.  Three of the 4 doors are
divided like this. I can understand why the out facing doors have this
configuration but some of the interior doors not visible to the outside are
also configured like this.   AND also required by historic preservation ?
just to make life very interesting ? the upper half of the double hung
windows are divided into 6 squares.  


Every month when I clean these windows I think living in a cave has some
advantages ?


When designing your CH and any other structures think carefully about who is
going to clean, maintain and repair your facilities.


See Rebecca?s summary of her study below my signature block. It?s in plain
text.  This means some formatting is missing.   I think you can still figure
it out.  Hope you find it useful for your needs, Janey.   Again, maybe
someone connected w/ CRN has a copy of the full study.


Best ?


Ann Zabaldo

Takoma Village Cohousing

Washington, DC

Ex. Dir. & Mbr. Board of Directors

Mid Atlantic Cohousing

Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC

Falls Church, VA


zabaldo [at] <mailto:zabaldo [at]> 


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