Wolf Creek Lodge
Quimper Village
Quimper Village
Quimper Village
Germantown Commons Cohousing
Germantown Commons Cohousing
Germantown Commons Cohousing
Germantown Commons Cohousing
Germantown Commons Cohousing
Germantown Commons Cohousing
Germantown Commons Cohousing
Germantown Commons Cohousing
Germantown Commons Cohousing
Create Cohousing | Cohousing

Cohousing communities are conceived by visionaries. Some are developers or landowners; most are simply people hungry for connection. No two communities are created in the same way, and as cohousing grows the variety of approaches to creating it is growing as well.

We find that successful communities engage in three interrelated processes:
  • Gathering resources: people and money
  • Building the physical structures of community: land, houses and common house
  • Building the relational structures of community: connection and group process
Vision

Cohousing communities begin with a vision, often with just one burning soul. As that vision spreads and evolves, members join and the project takes shape. Some groups follow tried-and-true process while others forge the way for new innovations. All share a passion for living more closely with neighbors and more lightly on the earth.

The steps below walk you through the general process, though it tends to be messier than this, with steps overlapping and intersecting. The Relationships, Resources and Buildings pages provide detailed information, sample documents and alternate approaches.

Step 1
Learn
Read. Visit communities. Attend conferences and tours.
Step 2
Dream
Share, draft vision and values statements.
Step 3
Organize
Communications, shared documents, resources
Step 4
Form
Core group of three to five. Begin marketing, events, website and more.
Step 5
Decide
Learn and adopt consensus or consent process for making decisions collaboratively.
Step 6
Legal
Hire attorney(s) for LLC, securities, purchase agreement, etc.
Step 7
Land
Secure land with option to purchase or purchase outright.
Step 8
Grow
To eight to ten (or more!) households. Increase marketing, events and investment.
Step 9
Relate
Build relationship, process and communication skills
Step 10
Design
Hire architect and design team
Step 11
Expand
Expand to 80 to 90% of full community
Step 12
Hire
Developer and construction team, and choose members to interact with builders.
Step 13
Bolster
Process and relationship skills. Continue training. Connect as a larger group.
Step 14
Finance
Secure the money you need to build your project.
Step 15
Break Ground
Break ground and build your buildings.
Step 16
Sell
Remaining units and begin wait list.
Step 17
Play
Enjoy each other, and continue to build relationship and process skills
Step 18
Plan
Common meals, reserves, cleaning, common house use, etc.
Step 19
Move in
Step 20
Celebrate
and begin the next phase of community building
Relationships
Communication, decision making, consensus or consent process, growing through conflict
Resources
Gathering people, money, knowledge and more, marketing and sales
Buildings
Buying land, hiring design and construction professionals, building, using existing structures
Frequently Asked Questions
Professionals can be hired at any point in the process. Most professionals advise that clients get more value for money by hiring them as early as possible. Process professionals can give you the skills to engage conflict productively before there are major ruptures between your members. Project consultants can save you thousands of dollars by helping you avoid costly mistakes in everything from legal documents to design. The timing that is right for you will depend on your group’s preferences and available resources.
No. Starting with bare land has advantages, but working with existing structures can be exciting as well. Many communities have repurposed some or all of their buildings. Some groups are even exploring converting existing condo or mobile home communities by recruiting residents and purchasing units that come for sale.
A lot depends on the resources, marketing and approach of the group. Three to seven years is an average range. Communities who have readily available financial resources and hire professionals to help with process and project management tend to be completed faster. Some projects take much longer, particularly if land is hard to find or rezoning is needed.

Cohousing.org is an ever-evolving, community supported website.

If you see information that is missing or inaccurate, we welcome your suggestions.

Content on this page is curated to make the website as attractive and useful as possible. All cohousers are invited to submit articles, stories and resources which are displayed on the page appropriate for the topic.

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