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!

These are select responses to Susan Adams (Jubilee Cohousing, Floyd, VA) query on Cohousing-L: What percentage of your anticipated membership did you have before you began to build your homes?...
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CoHousing Solutions is proud to announce our first graduating class of the 500 Communities Program! This year-long training is spearheaded by Katie McCamant, and gathers passionate cohousing...
Tags: News, Tags: Professionals
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Cohousing in Denmark was catapulted into success with the collaboration of the very capable architect Jan Gudmand Hoyer and the architectural firm Vandkunsten. Their idea was inspired by the article...
Tags: Design
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It’s been a long six years and a particularly long last six months but we’ve finally arrived. Persistence pays off! We moved into CHUC (Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing) on June 14, 2016. Backstory [...
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Philip Dowds is responding to a coho-l inquiry: is cohousing really a lot more expensive than a similar but bigger house in a somewhat equivalent middle or slightly upper-middle class neighborhood...
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Liz Ryan Cole is responding to an coho-l email discussion on affordability. For those people following this thread on affordability (and don’t forget to find all the older posts that have been...
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Attached is Fair Oaks EcoHousing's "Sustainable Living Features" Cohousers don’t only talk the green talk, they walk the green walk. Yet the sustainable lifestyle inherent in intentional...
Tags: Design
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“Imagine that you live in a place where you know all your neighbors and they all look out for you. You often encounter a friend as you walk to or from your car. You are invited, daily, to join others...
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[Wendy is responding to an inquiry from a person in Sacramento seeking affordable cohousing options, who writes: I’ve been trying to crack this cohousing egg for many years without luck. We have many...
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Published in Communities Magazine #171: Ecovillages Around the World Following the first cohousing community in the United States, Muir Commons in Davis, California, cohousing has not only...
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What I think is a great find is the uniform condominium bylaws. It was written by the Uniform Law Commission. The Uniform Law Commission (ULC, also known as the National Conference of Commissioners...
Tags: Legal
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Jane Ellen Bleeg, a founder of Flower City Cohousing forming group in Rochester, New York, is sharing their research - attached - as they consider including affordable units. Information sources were...
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Vermont is a state of small towns, and among them, the village of Bristol is unique. It is the commercial hub of five rural townships, featuring an old-fashioned Main Street lined with shops and...
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Iowa City Cohousing, which is in the process of submitting our site plan to the city planning and zoning commission and has about one-third of the needed member households, regularly asks folks who...
Tags: Marketing
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One of the great tragedies of our hyper-individualized society is the separation of the generations. There is so much love and wisdom lost, and so much needless suffering endured as a result of the...
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Our Getting It Built Workshop comes almost exactly on the nine-year anniversary of the day I first heard of cohousing. At the time, I was a member of the Board of Directors of Tri-City Homeless...
Tags: Event, Tags: Stories
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While it has been arguably necessary, it is also unfortunate that cohousing projects are most often sold to appraisers and banks as nothing less--and nothing more--than a condominium. You’ve cut...
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“I feel different,” Essie said quizzically as she stood in front of her new condo in Germantown Commons, “I'm not dressing up as much as before.” We had just started moving in to the brand new homes...
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When lying awake last night reflecting on various decisions made in cohousing and in my neighborhood community, I explored some questions about what is open and transparent in a world where everyone...
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[Editor's Note: Village Hearth Cohousing is a sponsor of the Aging Better Together Conference. Come join us!] These are exciting times on the cohousing front in the Triangle area of North Carolina...
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Have you registered for the unique opportunity to promote your community along with others around the country through the National Cohousing Open House Day coming up (Sat) April 30, 2016? This will...
Tags: Coho/US, Tags: Connecting, Tags: Marketing, Tags: More than Cohousing, Tags: News, Tags: Tours
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There are certainly many substantive benefits of being an early investor and committed burning soul in the cohousing formative stages. The most important of these are having a strong Influence in...
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Download the "What is Cohousing?" slideshow from Kraus Fitch Architects, or view it below.
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This post is on a neighborhood discussion list and will be seemingly off-topic but bear with me. Our neighborhood list, TakomaDC where Takoma Village Cohousing is located, started in the 1990s by...
Tags: Connecting, Tags: Group Process, Tags: Resources
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[Editor's Note: Reprinted from Communities Magazine by Robert Boyer, an Assistant Professor of Geography and Earth Sciences at UNC Charlotte. Robert has researched cohousing and ecovillage...
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The Board of Partnerships for Affordable Cohousing (PFAC) is excited to announce that Wendy Wiesner has agreed to serve as our first Executive Director! Wendy is widely known for her commitment to...
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I am often asked about “affordable housing”. People want “affordable cohousing”. I want to share with you what this is all about and why I believe this country lacks “affordable cohousing”. I also...
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Over 50 folks joined us, North Bay Cohousing, on Sept 13th in Novato, CA to learn about two real and now cohousing opportunities in the North Bay: a Novato site for sale and a Cotati site under...
Tags: Developing, Tags: Starting
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[Editor's Note: This article reprinted from Communities Magazine is authored by Robert Boyer, an Assistant Professor of Geography and Earth Sciences at UNC Charlotte. Robert has researched cohousing...
Tags: Legal
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What are some ways to encourage people to create low-income cohousing?, Suggestions: 1. Define "low income." “Affordable” is not a euphemism for “low income.” Affordable is usually defined...
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