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Learn More About Cohousing

There are many advantages to living in cohousing beyond reduced environmental impacts and a supportive inter-generational community. Below are a few enlightening resources and some frequently asked questions.

  • What does the exterior of the community look like? Is there a web page with examples?
    Please explore the Community on the website and download the Info and Sales packet for even more information.
  • What do the individual units look like inside and out? Do any of the townhomes have 1st floor bedrooms?
    We don’t know yet; no floor plans have been designed. The best way to get a first-floor bedroom would be to pay the current deposit fee and participate in the floor plan design workshop.
  • Will there be any private yards? I have a small dog and I'd like to have a fenced enclosure for him to use
    The current design includes private yards with the townhouse units. There may also be a small, enclosed yard attached to one of the flats. There is a plan to have a large "dog run" area in the back of the property.
  • Can I have a garden?
    Many of us are gardeners. If you click on the Sales and Community Info Package link, on the Site Plan you will see that we are planning to have large community gardens. The common grounds are being designed by a landscape architect and will have lots of opportunities to plant and maintain annuals and perennials.
  • Will there be any storage lockers for garden tools, skis, etc.?
    Back to that Site Plan, there is a large potting shed and storage space for garden tools. Part of the cohousing philosophy is that every homeowner does not need all of the tools we currently have in our garages. We will also have a large bike barn and each home will include a garage with storage space.
  • Is there an area for remote workstations in the common house?
    This is certainly a possibility. The precise interior of the common house has not yet been defined. It would be easy to add workstations and/or “zoom booths” if owners want to add that to the design.
  • If I join now, how do I know what units are available?
    At this time, none of the units have been assigned. There are six different unit types (A-F), with 4-12 units of each type. The members who sign up earliest get the choices in the order they signed up and remain fully paid, so the best way to ensure you will get your first choice unit is to sign up quickly and to keep up with the deposit schedule.
  • If more folks want certain units, can the site plan be re-arranged?
    Yes, within site plan limits it may be possible to rearrange the unit layouts to have more or fewer of a certain unit type.
  • What are the ceiling heights in flats?
    They are all 9' right now. The ground level flats have a 10' ceiling. There will be no ceiling under 8.5’.
  • What is the exterior materials on townhomes?
    We're thinking a white stucco with a sand finish that's really elegant.
  • What is the distance between flats and carriage homes and how does that compare to the Boulder cohousing projects?
    The distance is between 50-60' at the flats/carriage houses and 40-50' between the fronts of the townhomes. This is wider than the space between fronts of units at WS or SSV projects.
  • Is there a possibility for 2 or 2.5 bathrooms in townhomes or a townhome model that is a little bigger?
    Yes, those types of decisions are still TBD in the unit design workshop. Right now, the smaller townhome is 1.5 bath and the larger one is 2.5 bath.
  • Regarding parking for owners guests – do they park in the area by the front? How many spaces are there? Where else can they park if people have a party and there aren’t enough spaces?
    Guest parking is currently shown near 44th to the west of the common house. We usually don't assign open surface parking, so that can be good for guests too. Plenty of parking is required by code, and so far we have not asked for a parking reduction. The code asks for 1/10 additional guest parking stalls beyond the ones required for residents, which is resulting in just over 2 guest parking spots per household in our plans.
  • Do residents have small storage areas available?
    Yes, under each carriage house porch is a storage area. Still TBD, but we could decide to make those into storage closets that could serve multiple households or just that carriage house. Also, the garages are 12x24 so there is enough depth in them for a lot of extra storage. We have found that in cohousing people share garages quite often so that’s an option too.
  • At what point does the "Land" become the property of the Blue Columbine Cohousing Project or individuals and not the Blue Columbine Land LLC?
    The land will become the property of the Blue Columbine Cohousing project at the time the construction financing is closed. That is when all funds are in the deal.
  • Does an individual Buyer own any land?
    No, an individual buyer does not own any land. The land is owned by the HOA. The deed to the individual’s condo will be like any other condominium where you own your dwelling and are a part-owner of the common spaces, with rights to use the land and common area in accordance with the rules of the HOA. Once a buyer signs a “Reservation Agreement”, do they become part of Blue Columbine LLC? In other words, does the buyer become part of the “Seller” group, consequently involved in the go/no go decision? The reservation agreement provides you the right to enter into a purchase and sale agreement for a unit, and it affords certain rights and conditions relative to design input of the community. In the spirit of co-housing, buyers will be a part of the discussions on design and financing. Much like buying a condo, you do not have ownership rights until you close on your home.
  • What if the Project doesn’t proceed and never gets built?
    If the Project does not proceed to construction or is otherwise terminated without being developed, and IF the Seller is able to sell the land for a profit, then within one (1) year after the Project termination, Seller will refund the deposits paid by Buyer from the profits of the land sale minus expenses incurred by Blue Columbine Land LLC. Incurred expenses include but are not limited to costs incurred in the land purchase, including the due diligence costs, etc. After project reimbursements, the land group would realize a 5%/year return for their risk in securing the land for this project., then the buyer deposits would be returned with all remaining funds.
  • How would a purchaser back out, if necessary?
    The Reservation Agreement addresses this and the distribution of returned this. The purchaser can get their money back in ways defined in the agreement, but to summarize: Monies will be refunded to non-purchasing Blue Columbine members ONLY after the sale of the last unit in the project (if the project gets built) OR upon sale of the land, and after the Land Group is paid back (if it doesn’t get built). This is why we have a “no go” date in mind (so that people’s money isn’t tied up indefinitely).
  • What does the "Community Fee" cover and how much is it estimated to be?
    We haven’t made our rules for our homeowners’ association yet. The community fee will be on par with a condo association that has a 4000sf community space, landscaping, snow removal, swimming pool to maintain, water, electricity, sewer and property taxes on the common areas. A comparable estimate is between $450-$700/mo
  • How will the HOA (“Community Fee) be determined?
    There is discussion about it being based on the number of bedrooms, not the square footage as many of the costs aren’t relative to size - snow removal, landscaping etc. Number of bedrooms might better reflect the amount of usage for pool, internet, heat, water etc.
  • How do I join this community?
    The Project and Deposit Schedule in the Sales and Community Information Package lists the Key Dates and Deposit minimum to contribute by that date (both amount and dates are subject to change). Your complete deposit secures your picking order for units, your ability to contribute to further design workshops and meetings, and your place in the community. In the event that an individual or family does not maintain the deposit schedule, they may be bumped down to a lower priority number for unit choice behind those who have fully paid. In order to secure a spot in the selection order, new buyers need to deposit an amount equal to the deposits that have then been collected thus far from the other buyers at the time of joining.
  • If I commit now, how confident can I be that the price of the unit will remain the same?
    Our budget was designed a year ago by the national expert in cohousing development, Jim Leach. It is subject to change as we firm up design elements and as construction and borrowing costs vary over time. We can’t make any guarantees about the precise budget, but we are confident that it was written by the best possible team.
  • How much does a member have to pay before move-in?
    The payment total expected of members before move-in is estimated to be $175,000-$180,000 per family. As we move along the schedule, the deposits will continue to fund our progress (construction drawings, etc) until we secure a construction loan. ALL of the monies paid before move in go toward the cost of one’s unit (with some incentive money if you come in early enough). Some members have taken or will take, home equity credit lines to cover these payments.
  • What happens if I make a deposit but then want to back out? Will I get my money back?
    For those who decide to opt out before the completion of the project, we plan to refund initial deposits to investors following completion of the project and sales of all units, minus any costs incurred (for example, design charette participation costs). In the unlikely event that the project does not proceed to completion, we will use profits from the land sale to reimburse investors, if available. See the reservation agreement questions below for more details.
  • How is Wonderland Hill Development involved in the project?
    Jim Leach of Wonderland Hill is acting as a consultant on our project. He wrote our budget and has provided valuable insights into the design and build process.
  • Who is the developer for the project?
    Early on we CHOSE not to hire a developer to build and sell our project for two very good reasons: Developers make money by charging buyers their profit (so the units cost more), and a developer might not build what we want in our cohousing community (many decisions would not be ours). By choosing to do it this way, we have a heavier burden, but save at least 20% on the total project (and individual unit costs) while maintaining complete design control. This is why we must convince community members to make substantial financial investments before anything gets built. THE ONLY WAY we will have a cohousing community is if we get commitments (purchase agreements) for roughly ¾ of the total number of units. Then we will secure a bank loan to finish building our project our way.
  • Who is purchasing the property for Blue Columbine Cohousing?
    The land is being purchased by a separate entity called Blue Columbine Land LLC. The land is being purchased with the plan to sell the land to individuals buying Blue Columbine properties. The land will be the collateral for the construction loan, so when we get a construction loan, the land becomes part of Blue Columbine Cohousing. There is a small profit written into the budget for the Blue Columbine Land owners (5% or so)
  • Who are the agents and investors of Blue Columbine Land LLC?
    They are some of the initial members of the project.
  • Are you looking for additional investors?
    Yes. Although this is not a profit driven real estate investment deal, additional investment dollars will go a long way to securing the capital stack and reducing financing costs. Any investment returns will be modest but will help the project realize success.
  • What keeps the Blue Columbine Land LLC from selling it to another entity for $1 so there is not profit and doing something with it later to their own benefit?
    The Land Investors are also the initial future residents and investors in the co-housing project. They have deposits that are being used for design and entitlements the same as every other committed resident. This project was not undertaken as a real estate investment profit driven deal. The land investors have taken the risk of securing the land to ensure this project will be successful.
  • Is there a legal document that ties the land group to the cohousing group - requiring the land to be part of the equity stack?
    The Blue Columbine Land LLC charter states, “The purpose of this company is to purchase real estate for the development of the Blue Columbine Cohousing community” and outlines that the land will become part of the collateral for the construction loan.
  • When would the project cease if there was not enough interest?
    The "go/no go" date is not firm. However, the Land Acquisition Committee has set a time frame of about 18 months from the first charette payment (March 2023). Also, it is worth mentioning that the Land Group has the right to sell the land at a time of its choosing (i.e. the land wouldn’t necessarily be sold at the time the project folded). The reason for this is that the group has to be able to realize a return on its investment in order to repay members. If the market doesn't support that, the land won’t be sold until it does.

Reference Books and Articles

Growing up in cohousing

Former children (now young adults living near and far) contributed to a video from Cobb Hill cohousing community speaking about what spending part of their childhood in the community meant to them and shared some memorable moments.

CoHousing Facts

What is CoHousing? 

Cohousing is designed around the premise that human beings thrive in community with other people.

Before moving in, residents have the collaborative intention to balance the privacy of their independent household with the creation of a community in which they will participate. There is a concern and focus on inclusivity and sustainability in many cohousing groups and members align with this mission. Lastly, collaborative housing involves a number of separate households rather than a single entity and active participation by these households in the development, management, and life of the community which results in beneficial outcomes for the entire community. 


What are some Benefits to living in CoHousing?

Various arguments have been made for the benefits of cohousing. The top arguments made in support of cohousing include the following: 

  • fosters agency, mutual aid, and wellbeing.

  • adds to the supply of affordable housing.

  • strengthens community life and sense of place.


Who Lives in CoHousing?

People who live in cohousing often do so out of a desire to belong to something larger than themselves, to give and receive support, to live rich lives, to live lighter on the planet, to avoid modern isolation and loneliness, to increase the depth and quality of their relationships, to have a sense of purpose, and to ground themselves in community so they can go out in to the world and do amazing things. They are rethinking housing models based on their own needs and not those of profit-oriented production builders.


Are there Environmental Benefits?

Cohousing is a part of the solution to global challenges including climate change, poor urbanization patterns, rising cost of living, social isolation. People benefit by living in an environment that supports their health and improves their well-being. There are a number of environmental impact and cost reduction benefits to cohousing including that fewer resources are used because of shared and more efficient space, that car and tool sharing is popular, that labor sharing like cleaning and gardening is common, and how when communal spaces are shared, private residences become more affordable.

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