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!

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...
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From the website ( ): “Our goals include building residences that are beautiful, comfortable, resource efficient and sustainable. Our site design will have extensive common...
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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...
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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...
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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.
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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