Frequently Asked Questions
What do you hope to create?
We are committed to living in the City of Rochester or an inner-circle suburb, in approximately 20-30 housing units. Our community is still in the development stage; we envision it will include primarily owner-occupied units in the form of duplexes/townhomes as well as a multi-story building with apartment/condo units and the Common House. Housing will range from studios to 1- to 3-bedroom units, each with a full kitchen, bathroom(s) and living room. The Common House will include a large kitchen and multi-use room suitable for community dinners, meetings, and celebrations. It will also include space for shared tools and equipment, a laundry room, guest rooms, and recreation areas.
Where will it be located?
We are exploring sites within Rochester’s city limits, the Town of Brighton, and other nearby suburbs.
What are you doing currently?
Roughly 20 of us meet regularly as a whole group and in committees to develop our community. We also gather periodically for social events. We are immersed in meetings with major local developers, architects, representatives of the City of Rochester and neighboring towns, and others to identify our site. Katie McCamant of Cohousing Solutions, our nation’s foremost expert who helped bring cohousing here to the US from Denmark and has aided in creating dozens of communities, serves as our development consultant. PLAN Architectural Studio and Moore CRE are helping us identify the best site. We have monthly orientations for newcomers, and are conducting informational presentations to varied groups (churches, Rotaries, interest groups, and others). We welcome invitations to speak to groups of any size.
What will units cost?
Depending on the site and size of units, we anticipate costs will range from $120,000 to $300,000. This price includes ownership of (A) an individual living unit and (B) a share in the Common House, gardens, and other community spaces. We also have as a goal enabling people who work in the neighborhood to live in our community. While the community will primarily involve home ownership, there may be some rental opportunities.
Will there be monthly fees?
Monthly homeowner association fees will cover maintenance (current needs as well as a fund for future needs) and other shared costs. Typical rates for cohousing range from $300 up, depending upon what the community itself chooses to include. The amount is set to minimize needs for unexpected emergency assessments.
What cost savings come with cohousing?
The sharing of resources in cohousing limits resource consumption and saves money. Here are some examples:
- The Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage (Belfast, ME) estimates that a family of four could save in excess of $100,000 over 20 years (http://www.cohousing.org/node/3281). Their net-zero architecture could save up to $50,000 in heating costs depending on the unit.
- Cohousing residents share lawnmowers, pick-up trucks, bikes, tools, and more.
- Residents may experience reduced costs related to transportation, house maintenance, childcare, and moving heavy items.
How will I buy into the community if I have not yet sold my present home?
Paying for a cohousing unit is just like looking for a house before you sell your existing house/condo/townhouse. You take the risk of selling your house too soon, but then you have the money. On the other hand, you might wait until your unit exists and then it might take too long to sell your house. This is the same as the general buying and selling of houses.
How will resale work?
Owners are responsible for identifying buyers for their units, and potential buyers are asked to become familiar with the community, including its operations and members. Ultimately, buyers must sign off on the operating agreement of the community and go through the community membership process. Often cohousing communities have waiting lists of people seeking to purchase a unit, and sellers can start with people on the list if they wish. Other members may refer friends as potential buyers, and the national Cohousing Association offers a place to list units for sale on its web site.
What about sweat equity?
How much participation is required?
At least one adult member of each household is actively involved in our community, attending committee and/or business meetings regularly, helping to create FC3. Once the community is built and occupied, we anticipate having a work requirement for all adult members—probably on the order of 4 hours of volunteer time per month. If health issues or other circumstances make it impossible for a member to participate, a waiver can be requested.
How is this different from a ’60s commune?
Most member households will each own fully independent and functional living quarters; you can have privacy as well as community. We operate by a consensus process that enables all to be heard but no single person or household dominates or permanently blocks important decisions. Members manage and are responsible for their own finances and financial obligations. We anticipate offering 2-3 community meals each week, and they are entirely voluntary. The community has no affiliation with any specific religious or political organization.
Consensus? What’s that all about?
FC3 uses a modified form of consensus decision making. This allows us to hear all views and achieve resolution efficiently. The use of committees to investigate, formulate and present proposals streamlines decision making. Major issues — site selection, for example — are brought to business meetings for thorough discussion and finally a decision. When this form of decision making works, the bonds in the community deepen, people listen better and respect for different options grows.
Click here to read our document on consensus decision-making.
What about pets?
FC3 makes decisions by a consensus process. Specifics about pets and many other issues will be decided using this process.