Category Archives: What We Do

Workshops

Workshops

Cohousing Resources offers a wide variety of workshops and presentations for cohousing groups. Workshops range from an overview of cohousing to the specific steps needed to get your project built. Workshops include:

What is Cohousing?

An overview of cohousing including history, examples of projects and what makes cohousing communities work; includes a slideshow and answers frequently asked questions.

Free two hour presentation, plus expenses

Getting It Built Where You Live

This workshop includes the steps required to form a group and take your project from idea to land acquisition, from financing and construction to completion; this workshop is customized for your community. This workshop answers key questions such as:

  • How much will my house cost?
  • How do we use a budget?
  • How much money is needed when?
  • When can I move in?

You’ll leave this workshop with:

  • Membership and participation agreements
  • Customized budget for your project, in your location
  • Customized schedule for your situation
  • Customized cash flow

Weekend two day workshop $2500 plus expenses

Land Acquisition

No matter where you are, land is available. Whether urban, suburban, or rural, you can find land for your project even if it isn’t listed for sale. Locating the right site for your project is one of the first steps to building your community. Materials include site criteria and a customized site search map for your area.

One day workshop, $1000 plus expenses

Marketing and Membership

When it’s time for your group to grow, it’s time for the marketing workshop, which will guide you on how to find new members and integrate them into your existing group. This workshop will teach you how to market to prospective members, create marketing materials and a marketing plan.

You’ll have everything you need to get started by the end of the workshop.

One-day workshop: $1000 plus expenses

Moving Your Cohousing Project Forward

Feeling stuck? Hit a snag?

This workshop is what you need to get going again. Maybe you have a group but can’t find land. Do you have land but no financing? Have you started design without a project budget? This workshop will give you the kick-start you need to move forward efficiently, and effectively.

One-day workshop:  $1000 plus expenses

Project Feasibility

So you’ve tied up land and now you need to know if it will work for your project. What about zoning, permits, utilities, and parking requirements? How many units do you need to make it work economically? This workshop takes a step-by-step look at your project to ensure you’ve found the right property for your project.

One-day workshop: $1000 plus expenses

Financial Commitments

Workshop includes the steps of getting members’ commitment to buy and working with the bank to get the financing you need for your project. This workshop answers key questions such as:

  • How much will my house cost?
  • How do we use a budget?
  • How much money is needed when?
  • When can I move in?

You’ll leave this workshop with:

  • Membership and participation agreements
  • Customized budget for your project, in your location
  • Customized schedule for our situation
  • Customized cash flow

Two-day workshop – $2,000 plus expenses

Design Process

Our detailed workshop covers the design process from start to finish:

  • Language of design
  • Working with your design team
  • Design tracks
  • Goals for the site plan
  • Schematic design
  • Construction documents
  • Value engineering or cost reconciliation
  • Construction supervision
  • Design considerations include, but are not limited to:
  • Car-free zones
  • Pedestrian friendly
  • Ecovillage
  • Common house and
  • Community size
  • How design affects affordability

One-day workshop: $1000 plus expenses

Creating Affordable Cohousing

How to make your project work for your membership is an important component, especially if you want to have a more inclusive, mixed income community. Your workshop will include how to create your custom budget, cash flow and schedule. We research cost, timing and financing in your area to create a profile for your specific needs. You’ll learn how to keep your costs down and how to work with local, state and federal government agencies. This workshop covers grants and public funding as well as development and design strategies to create affordable cohousing.

One-day workshop: $1000 plus expenses

Custom Workshops and Events

Special events can be arranged to promote an individual group or cohousing in general. With a large selection of slides and a growing video collection of cohousing resources across North America, we provide public presentations, slide shows, and orientations tailored to meet the needs of your specific group.

Please let us know how we may assist you. Contact us for more information or a free consultation:

Phone: (206) 601-7802 • Email: [email protected]

Urban Cohousing Associates • PO Box 1288 • Langely, WA 98260

 

Streamline Development

Building Homes and Community at the Same Time!

Urban Cohousing Associates has created an innovative way to get cohousing projects built more quickly and more efficiently — while reducing group burnout. In this process groups have many options to choose from as they join in partnership with Urban Cohousing Associates.

Key Features of the Streamline Development Model

Less cash required from you. As little as 5% down. You control the design process from beginning to end. You do the outreach, membership & marketing. We do project management & development, including all arrangements for legal, finance, and construction. You build community—we build a place for community!

Form a Resident Group

Getting a group started? We can help. And we can’t build cohousing without a group of committed future residents. You’ll need more members to make your dream become reality. The Streamlined Development Model can help you do just that. We’ll team you up with community building experts that will help you develop strategies to increase membership while maintaining your core values. We can also provide resources for making your meetings run more smoothly, including extensive information on how other communities have done it.

Identify a Potential Site

It may seem impossible, but the right piece of land is out there waiting for you. Cohousing Resources is available to help your group find the right place to build the community you’ve dreamed about. An experienced land acquisition expert will see opportunities you may have missed. We are able to provide the complete approach to the seller, including contract negotiations, whether the land is for sale or not.

Determine Feasibility—Will It Work?

The site, the budget, the group—does your project make sense? Once you have secured a site the Cohousing Resources team can do a complete feasibility analysis, helping you decide if your project really makes sense. This analysis will compare the development potential of the land with your group’s goals. We will verify assumptions and run all the numbers to see if your project makes sense from the financial, political, marketing and legal points of view.

The Design Process Design participation is the key. Participate in a series of workshops to assist your group through the design process, quickly and efficiently. Programming & schematic design workshops include:

  • Site
  • Common House
  • Private Units

Work with the best cohousing design professionals from across the country. Have an experienced cohousing design team design your project from start to finish, or have them train your local design professionals up front so they get it right for you, the way you want it.

These sessions will help your community determine how to make the best use of your resources in accordance with your group mission.

Financing & Budget

Everyone wants to know, “What is it going to cost?” And , “Where will we get the money?” The Streamline Development Model uses a simple and elegant budget model, provided to you as a part of feasibility. The budget includes assumptions about the number and types of units (called the unit mix) as well as assumed sizes for your common house and your private units. You make the choices. We plug in the numbers. You know what it should cost.

Most importantly, the Streamlined Development Model provides a financial structure that makes sense. You provide the start up funds, and we do the rest. All of the costs associated with building your community are built into each household’s mortgage. After initial funding, this allows you to focus on building membership and a sense of community, without worrying about where the money will be coming from.

Scheduling

When can we move in?

As a part of feasibility we will provide a preliminary project schedule so that you can determine if it all makes sense. This will allow you to consider various development approaches, and consider how soon you want to move in.

Project or Lot Development?

Do you want to use the lot model or will you build it as one project? Or maybe you want a combination of both. Compare the budgets, consider the schedules, evaluate the risk, and YOU DECIDE.

Construction

The Streamlined Development Model makes the building process easy by providing an interface between the group and the builder. Urban Cohousing Associates brings more than 25 years of industry experience to your project with a commitment to get your homes built on time and on budget.

We specialize in facilitating the use of environmentally appropriate building materials and practices. Our team will provide the experienced experts to manage the permits, engineers, architects, general contractors and other required professionals.

To find out if your group qualifies for the Streamlined Development Model, and see how this team can help your Community, contact us in any of the following ways and we’d be happy to send you a group profile worksheet.

Phone: (206) 601-7802 • Email: [email protected]

Urban Cohousing Associates • PO Box 1288 • Langely, WA 98260

View of Jamaica Plain Cohousing

Jamaica Plain Cohousing

Our group was about to dissolve until we found Chris ScottHanson. He started speaking at 9:00 am. By 10:00, my husband and I had agreed to become equity members.

Founding Member
Jamaica Plain Cohousing
“A New, Old-Fashioned Neighborhood”
Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts
Established 2005

From Jamaica Plain Cohousing’s entry in the Cohousing US Directory

We are a mixed-income, multigenerational, urban cohousing condominium that is committed to being attuned to its urban setting and is within walking distance to public transportation. As part of that commitment we maintain a system of ride sharing, subsidized MBTA fare passes, and community bicycles. We use a modified consensus process to make decisions and are committed to resolving conflicts through honest, direct, and respectful communications.

Participation in group meals is encouraged, but not mandated. We strive to work cooperatively for mutual benefit, while respecting personal autonomy and the privacy of one’s home. We actively participate in neighborhood events and act as a CSA drop-off site.

We do on-site composting and have eight raised-bed gardens with organic soil. We are committed to conserving natural resources through environmentally-sound construction, energy conservation, recycling, and reducing consumption by sharing materials. All common areas and individual units are accessible to people with disabilities. We value diversity and welcome people from all classes, races, cultures, sexual orientations, and traditional and nontraditional families.

What Is Cohousing?

What is cohousing? is both a simple questions to answer and a varied answer. It is the result of a group of people who intentionally build a multi-family complex that becomes a neighborhood.    Each one is uniquely planned and developed, but there are many common characteristics.

Where Did It Start? What About Today?

Cohousing started in Denmark in the early 1979s when dual income professionals were searching for better daycare and a safer neighborhood. It has matured into an intergenerational mix of family types and is attractive to young families and single parents, as well as retired couples and singles. There are well over 200 projects completed in Denmark since the first was finished in 1972. In 2014, there are 111 built communities in the United States plus 22 under construction, 21 with purchased land, and others in various stages of optioning land and forming groups. A total of 221 known communities in 36 states.

Cohousing is a synthesis of several of the best features of multifamily housing and ranges in size from 12 to about 55 units. It is designed and often developed by the future residents and centered in the concept of balancing community and privacy as in an old fashioned village.

Because of limited government support for the early projects they have tended to be market-rate housing rather than low income. However, in Denmark much of the cohousing that is currently being developed is government sponsored rental or cost-controlled affordable ownership.

Essential Characteristics

While coho using developments vary in size, location, type of ownership, design, and priorities, the common characteristics are:

  • Participatory Process: Future residents participate in the planning and design of their community. They are responsible as a group for most of the final design and cost decisions.
  • Intentional Neighborhood Design: The physical design encourages a strong sense of community. With central pedestrian walkways or village greens, cars are generally relegated to the edge of the project, and sometimes to underground parking structures.
  • Private Homes & Common Facilities: Communities are generally designed to include significant common facilities, however, all residents also own their own private homes—with kitchens. As an integral part of the community, common areas are designed for daily use to supplement private living areas.
  • Resident Management: Unlike a typical condominium homeowners association, residents in cohousing usually manage their own community after move in, making decisions of common concern at regular community meetings.
  • Nonhierarchical Structure and Decision-Making: They say, “there are leadership roles, but not leaders in cohousing.” Decisions are made together, as a community, often using decision-making models such as consensus, or sociocracy.

Cohousing is NOT… There is no shared income in cohousing. Employment and business endeavors are privately organized. Common ideologies and charismatic leaders are generally not a part of cohousing. And of course, cohousing is not like a commune.

Design Considerations for Successful Cohousing

Cohousing is usually designed as clustered multifamily housing where each home is self sufficient, with private living, dining, and kitchen areas. Unlike housing built by a developer, a single cohousing project may have many unit types, ranging from studios to four or five bedrooms. And to avoid economic segregation, small and large units are interspersed. Cohousing is often designed with more compact and efficient living units in order to leave as much open space for natural areas, gardens, and recreation as possible.

Parking is segregated to the edge of the community, or possibly under the buildings, as at Trillium Hollow. Pedestrian circulation is designed to encourage interaction with neighbors. Private entries are located off pedestrian streets, pathways, and courtyards, allowing for a safe environment for children as well as gathering places for adults.

Smaller, more efficient private units accommodate a larger “common house” typically programmed to include daycare, laundry and dining facilities. Since prioritizing the common uses is done by the residents prior to construction, rarely does a common house include personal recreational uses. Residents often choose to include amenities such as a kitchen and dining area, children’s play areas, a library or lounge, and workshop facilities.

Ownership

As a matter of legal and financial convenience, most cohousing communities in North America have chosen the condominium legal ownership structure, known as strata title in Canada. This is due, primarily, to the expectations of lenders. For most people it’s important to make sure that you can get a mortgage.

Many would prefer to be organized as cooperative housing associations, since this tends to be more consistent with the goals of shared resources and the experience of community. A small number of groups have successfully adopted the cooperative ownership structure when they were able to locate the required financing.

Winslow Cohousing and the first two neighborhoods at the Ecovillage in Ithaca are the only cooperatively owned cohousing communities that we are aware of in the United States.

Types of Communities

There are many types of communities. Some develop organically in neighborhoods and apartment buildings, some retrofit abandoned or neglected spaces in cities, and others design and build new buildings. Most are interested in building a community that is as green and sustainable as feasible.

We focus on developing new communities in collaboration with groups of people who intentionally come together to develop and build  communities. We help groups accomplish their dreams.

Some of the types of communities are described below, with links to additional information. There is also information on the Resources on Cohousing page.

Cohousing Communities

Cohousing provides the privacy we are accustomed to within the community we seek.

Cohousing is a type of intentional, collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design, operation, and management of their neighborhoods. It is composed of private homes supplemented by shared facilities. Common facilities might include a kitchen, dining roomlaundrychild care facilities, offices, internet access, guest rooms, and recreational features. Cohousing communities strive to be intergenerational and socio-economic and ethnically  diverse.

Ecovillages

An Ecovillage is an “… intentional community whose goal is to become more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. Most range from a population of 50 to 150 individuals, although some are smaller, and larger ecovillages of up to 2,000 individuals exist as networks of smaller sub-communities. Certain ecovillages have grown by the addition of individuals, families, or other small groups, who are not necessarily members, settling on the periphery of the ecovillage and effectively participating in the ecovillage community.”

Collaborative Communities

A collaborative community, like Cohousing, is a type of intentional housing in which residents actively participate in the design, operation, and management of their neighborhoods. They develop in more diverse ways both socially and physically. They sometimes have particular beliefs and goals as a community and feature many more types of living styles than cohousing, including shared houses, less clustered dwellings, and experimental architecture. They do not generally provide shared facilities.

Pocket Neighborhoods, also called Cottage Neighborhoods

A pocket neighborhood is a grouping of smaller residences, often around a courtyard or common garden, designed to promote a close knit sense of community and neighborliness with an increased level of contact. Architect Ross Chapin partnered with The Cottage Company founder Jim Soules to build the first contemporary pocket neighborhood. Considerations involved in planning and zoning pocket neighborhoods include reducing or segregating parking and roadways, the use of shared communal areas that promote social activities, and homes with smaller square footage built in close proximity to one another (high density). Environmental considerations often play a role in the planning of pocket neighborhoods, and those advocating them promote their design as an alternative to the sprawl, isolation, expense, and commuter and automobile focus of many larger homes in suburban developments.

Welcome to Urban Cohousing

Chris working with Bay State Commons in Malden MA.

Chris ScottHanson working with Bay State Commons members in Malden MA.

 

“Our group was about to dissolve until we found Chris ScottHanson of Urban Cohousing Associates. He started speaking at 9:00 am. By 10:00 my husband and I had agreed to become equity members.”  Founding Member, JP Cohousing

Urban Cohousing Associates specializes in front end project planning — local area preference mapping, site search, and land acquisition. We usually do budgeting and scheduling as a part of initial project feasibility evaluation, to make sure you know what you’re getting into.

Why Urban Cohousing Associates?

We believe the best place to develop housing is within the existing urban grid of the city or small town. This may include the suburbs but it should, in our opinion, use an existing grid including sewer, water, and fire department access. Building out beyond the grid is costly — too costly financially for communities and too costly environmentally for everyone.

Creating Communities Since 1989

Since 1989, we have successfully located and acquired development sites for communities in Vermont, Massachusetts, Texas, Kansas, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

 

Urban Cohousing Associates • PO Box 1288 • Langley, WA 98260
Phone: (206) 601-7802 • Email: [email protected]

© Urban Cohousing Associates, 2014