What do you mean by “Cohousing”?
We are deliberately building a community rather than just a group of houses. Residents will, to varying degrees, all know one another, socialise together and support each other. To gain these benefits residents take on greater obligations than with a normal tenancy agreement or lease, to share the running and maintenance of the community.
How are decisions made? Who makes them?
All full members – that is people who actually live in our group – will have a voice and we will strive to make decisions by consensus.
Consensus decision making is a way of reaching agreement between all members of a group. Instead of simply voting for an item and having the majority of the group getting their way, our group will strive to find solutions that everyone actively supports, or at least can live with. This ensures that all opinions, ideas and concerns are taken into account. Through listening closely to each other, the group aims to come up with proposals that work for everyone.
Within the strict definition, if significant concerns remain unresolved, a proposal can be blocked and prevented from going ahead. We have decided that if an impasse is reached, we will reluctantly resort to a democratic vote.
How is your Cohousing group sustainable?
We will build our homes so that they will require as little energy as possible whilst remaining affordable to build. We are looking into the many options available. It is a balancing act. While it would be nice to have Passivhaus certification, we understand that we may need to get our homes as close to that standard as our budget allows.
How will your homes be affordable?
A crucial part of building our homes is keeping the total cost down. We are aiming to build homes for less than their final market value. This should allow us to make the homes available to buy or rent for less than their market value. The important thing is that it will be written into the lease of the properties that they will forever be sold at a given percentage below market value. So this is not a scheme for making a quick buck! Until we know the final cost of building the actual percentages in question can’t be decided on.
You say there is going to be a “common house”. What is that?
Cohousing communities often have a building that is shared, that can be used for meetings, communal cooking/dinning and just chilling out together, amongst other things. Right from the start we have all felt that a common house is an essential part of our project.
We imagine ours being something like a cross between a village hall and a cosy pub (usually without the alcohol). There will probably also be guest rooms available too.