Creating Cohousing

Mosaic Commons Site Design, by Laura FitchCohousing can be urban, suburban, or rural. A key feature of a community is its flexibility to the needs and values of its residents and characteristics of the site. Most cohousing groups make development and design decisions by consensus, and forge a strong partnership with their professional development team. Because residents design the community themselves, they feel a connection to the land and each other before the physical community is even built.

How a dream becomes reality

Cohousing communities begin with a vision. Future residents soon forge strong ties with one another and develop a sense of community as they work together to organize the group, make effective decisions, and build and grow their cohousing neighborhood. Members of forming groups must decide, “What do we want our cohousing community to look like?” Once a vision is agreed upon, future residents develop the project by finding a building site, designing the community, working through the local governmental approval process, hiring and managing construction professionals and cohousing consultants, and incorporating maximum sustainability principles. Group members will also need to make decisions about the financial realities of their project, including financing options, ownership structures, and project management, that is, keeping the project on track and on budget. The process of turning a cohousing dream into reality is challenging, but the ultimate reward is an innovative and collaborative community to call home.

What does cohousing look like

Most cohousing communities are designed to be compact. Cohousing communities consist of private, fully-equipped dwellings and extensive common amenities including recreation areas and a common house. Many neighborhoods are planned to keep cars to the periphery, which promotes interacting with neighbors and increases safety for playing children. Shared green space is also a key feature – whether for gardening, playing, or socializing. A final key feature is the common house – the “living room” of the community. Cohousing communities depend on cooperation and collaboration, from start to finish.

Residents work together to create a custom-built, resident-managed, close-knit neighborhood that offers a healthy balance of privacy and community. It takes a long time to build a cohousing community, but the process is worth it!

Carolyn Dyer of Iowa City Cohousing, still forming, posted their marketing plan to the Cohousing-L email list a week or two ago. I thought it contained many new ideas and asked her if I could share...
Tags: Developing, Tags: Marketing, Tags: Tours
Views: 4,473
Grace Kim responded to a query on cohousing-l to “cohousing veterans:” “What should we (a forming group) be worried about / work out in advance / get a good plan for NOW?" I'll preface my advice...
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On Cohousing-L, a member of a forming group asked a smart question: "What SHOULD we be worried about?" Philip Dowds, an architect living in Cornerstone Cohousing in Cambridge Cohousing replied...
Tags: Finance, Tags: Design, Tags: Developing, Tags: Legal, Tags: Starting, Tags: Stories
Views: 4,136
A list of the 6 mistakes that groups have made that contributed to their downfall or cost them significant financial loses and/or membership problems. Not a scientific study but reflects 20 years of...
Tags: Design, Tags: Developing, Tags: Economy, Tags: Legal, Tags: Marketing, Tags: Professionals, Tags: Research, Tags: Resources, Tags: Starting, Tags: Work
Views: 11,556
Participatory Design As A Key To Sustainable Society Kraus Fitch Architects, Inc. was recognized by Natural Home...
Tags: Design
Views: 2,822
What is a common house? For many, the first instinct is to think of it as a community building. Indeed, a common house shares many of the aspects of a community building: it is a place to gather in...
Views: 2,733
Combining Military Training with Cohousing Principles to Produce Supportive Housing As the Iraq and Afghanistan wars wind down and the federal budget deficit necessitates cuts in defense spending...
Tags: Coho/US
Views: 2,753
East Bay Cohousing members practice using consensus while meeting at the common house of Swan’s Market Cohousing in Oakland, CA, last year.When people choose to live in community, they hold a...
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What are the most important considerations when designing the kitchen and dining room in a common house? The kitchen and "great room" are the two most important spaces in a common house, they...
Views: 4,182
Temescal Creek Cohousing neighbors enjoy their new common house, which includes a unit on the top floor that helped offset construction costs. (Photos by Andrea Kissack) We often joke that we are...
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The Great Depression, probably not, but we sure have a mess on our hands. On Sunday, October 5th In Fresno, CA the Cohousing Partners and McCamant and Durrett Architects (MDA), and an awesome...
Tags: Economy
Views: 1,518
The best size and number of households seems to be one of the big challenges facing cohousing in America. Cohousing communities in Europe have shown over and again that the optimum size is not too...
Tags: Design, Tags: Size
Views: 2,512
Outline: - Sustainability - View, Practice and Action - Conflict, Taking Whole, Forming - Social Drama
Tags: Design, Tags: Developing
Views: 1,604
LEGAL ISSUES IN COHOUSING DEVELOPMENT Jonathan Klein, Klein Hornig LLP June 12, 2008 Presented to 2008 NATIONAL COHOUSING CONFERENCE Bentley College, Waltham, Massachusetts Abstract: This...
Tags: Developing, Tags: Legal
Views: 3,597
design goal: to luxuriate in life (cold beer, warm shower), to live lightly on the land : design a compact building with a tight, well insulated envelope that responds to your climate, take...
Tags: Design, Tags: Developing
Views: 1,831
renewable energy technologies Use of natural resources such as sunlight, wind, water, ocean tides, hydrogen, biomass, or geothermal heat, which are naturally replenished, as sources for heat and...
Tags: Design
Views: 1,576
From the website ( www.ranchosaludvillage.com ): “Our goals include building residences that are beautiful, comfortable, resource efficient and sustainable. Our site design will have extensive common...
Views: 4,120
Dear all, I wanted to share this exciting news. HUD is talking about cohousing! See email below from the woman I work with on Fannie Mae and FHA Project Approvals. "Wanted to share the...
Views: 1,967
Getting Started How does a community get started? Sometimes a developer who already has control of a site or piece of land will initiate and/or drive a new community. Other neighborhoods begin...
Tags: Starting
Views: 1,581
As part of our Design Leaders video series, architect and cohousing expert Kathryn McCamant talks about a lesson learned from the Danes: Bringing houses together brings people together.
Tags: Video
Views: 1,543
In the 21st century, we need to think about downsizing our footprint and upsizing our community. Produced for the Belterra Cohousing Community on Bowen Island. Narration by Isobel White Music by...
Tags: Video
Views: 2,808
Terri Huggett, Daybreak Cohousing In a recent post I talked about the aprons we use as part of our welcoming ceremony for new members. And I haven’t put it into...
Views: 1,527
Tiffany Yelton Bram, Daybreak Cohousing Raising a Family in Cohousing, Part 1 Cohousing is often touted as ideal for families. As a mom in a developing...
Views: 1,442
by Terri Huggett Part of the joy and struggle of creating a new community is creating the threads that hold us together. In our society and in our workplace, we...
Views: 1,436
By Sterling Newberry At various times, we at Daybreak Cohousing have felt the strain of so much work to do in developing our future home. We realized early on...
Views: 1,326
By Terri Huggett, Daybreak Cohousing As one of the co-founders of Daybreak Cohousing, I spent a lot of time in the early stages researching what communities who...
Views: 1,377
Editor’s note: Occasionally we reprint earlier articles that continue to have value. This article appeared in the Fall 2002 issue of our print magazine, Cohousing, written by two individuals who...
Tags: Marketing
Views: 2,669

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