Components of Cohousing

Participatory Process

Residents plan the community together to meet their needs. 

Designed to Facilitate Community

The walkways, common house, and common outdoor areas all encourage interaction.

Private Homes

Residents own their own self-contained private retreat, complete with kitchen and bathroom. Consider the common house an extension of your own home, a place where fun happens!

Resident Management

Living in cohousing means everyone participates in managing and maintaining part of the community. Committees will be developed for each aspect of management, such as Social Gatherings, Snow Removal, Gardening, Maintenance, etc.

Decision Making

Cohousing is non-hierarchical and every resident has a voice. The community may have begun with the "burning soul" who envisioned the end result, but another member may spearhead the financing aspect, and yet another may arrange the venue for each meeting. Each member contributes as they feel led, and every voice counts.

Creating Community

 This video features several Canadian Cohousing developments. Produced by the Canadian Cohousing Network.  

Development Process

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Below are the typical phases for developing a cohousing community. The points may not be inclusive and may occur in a moderately different order. These points provide insight into the process, activities, and commitment needed to build a cohousing community. We are currently on Step #1, and actively seeking like-minded families to join us. 

1. Explore Interest and Develop a Core Group

  • Read material on cohousing, explore websites such as cohousing.ca, perhaps visit an existing cohousing community. Learn about it!
  • Attend meetings and learn together.
  • Core group identifies shared values, goals, and related policies.
  • Set up group working structure; develop group process skills. Practise consensus decision-making protocols. 
  • Examine commitment to this cohousing community.
  • Explore financial capability and intention. What can you afford? Are you prequalified for a mortgage?
  • Hire project development manager.
  • Hire group process consultant.

2. Site Search and Negotiation

  • Participate in a weekend program called "Getting it Built."
  • Identify site criteria.
  • Search for site.
  • Pre-qualify for mortgage.
  • Hire architect. Participate in identifying goals and priorities.
  • Evaluate site: work with consultant and broker to negotiate land purchase contract and preliminary feasibility studies.
  • Hire developer/contractor.
  • Core group coalesces around site and makes financial commitment. Some members do not continue, but remain our friends.

3. Community Design

  • Work with project manager and architect on schematic design for community: site, Common House, and private homes.
  • Cultivate support of neighbouring community.
  • Submit plans to authorities for approval.
  • Receive approval from planning department.

4. Land Development

  • Review design development with architect and select finishes.
  • Architect completes construction documents.
  • Work out construction management policies and procedures.
  • Finalize construction contract.
  • Submit designs for building permits and receive approvals.
  • Finalize construction loan.

5. Construction

  • Celebrate! Organize and participate in the ground breaking event!
  • Start construction.
  • If you plan to sell the home you currently live in, now is the time!
  • Select furnishings for the Common House.
  • Develop procedures for managing our cohousing community. 
  • Finalize personal financial requirements.

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6. Move In

  • Community Management begins. Everyone belongs to at least one committee (e.g.: gardening, snow removal, social planning.)
  • Organize a celebratory event.
  • Grow and thrive!

For More Information...

The Canadian Cohousing Network

Image of a cohousing project in Vancouver

A registered non-profit organization that promotes the creation of cohousing communities as a model for sustainable development by raising public awareness about cohousing and by bringing people together to form communities. The most valuable function of the CCN is making connections with people who are interested in living in a cohousing community. CCN links individuals and cohousing groups together to share resources and make the process of creating a community easier and more economical. 

Creating Cohousing

Image of the book entitled Creating Cohousing, by McCamant and Durrett

Details many new North American case studies, design principles and sustainable design practices. Why live in cohousing? How to build cohousing? This book provides the answers.

With over 120 cohousing communities now in existence in North America, Katie McCamant and Chuck Durrett bring us a totally updated “must-have” book for cohousers, and anyone interested in creating more people-friendly neighborhoods.

The Cohousing Handbook

Image of boo entitled The Cohousing Handbook, by Scotthanson and Scotthanson

Cohousing offers an end to the isolation of the single family suburban home. Balancing community and personal privacy, cohousing offers a chance to create a modern village in an urban or rural setting. This handbook covers every element that goes into the creation of a cohousing project, including: forming a cohousing group, land acquisition, the development and design process, legal, finance and budget issues, scheduling, planning and marketing, the construction process, permits, approvals and membership.