Sharing resources creates both financial and environmental benefits in co-housing
Mutual Home Ownership
This model refers to sharing resources of the financial kind, in that you can afford a better quality home, space and lifestyle than you could as an individual. LILAC (Low Impact Living Affordable Community), designed by White Design, is, like Springhill, a co-housing scheme where many facilities are shared and a close-knit community has been created. Residents set up a sophisticated Mutual Home Ownership Society (MHOS), into which they each pay a percentage of their net income to pay for a joint mortgage that covers the scheme as a whole. The MHOS acts as a safety net for lower earners, meaning were their incomes to drop for some reason they would not have to leave the community.
Economic security is just as essential to a feeling of “home” as physical security, and this can be a greatly compelling reason for people to become involved in co-housing projects.
Saving Money with Reduced Space Requirements
Co-housing means that residents’ requirements for their own homes are significantly reduced compared to conventional housing. For example, in the Lancaster Co-housing scheme by Eco Arc shared facilities such as offices and guest bedrooms, and equipment such as washing machines and gardening tools, mean that the individual homes can be much smaller than average. This is a great way of increasing density, improving thermal performance, and reducing costs.
The housing at Lancaster is arranged in terraces. This is not only a typology that is popular locally, but also an energy- and space-efficient way of building. The terraces also sit well within the levels of the landscape, meaning that many of the homes are “upside-down”, with kitchen and living areas upstairs, taking advantage of the spectacular views over the River Lune. A side-effect of this arrangement is that you cannot tell who is at home as you walk along the level of the front entrances. I imagine this affords the residents a little privacy and breathing space within such a close community where people are so involved in each other’s lives.
By sharing tools, equipment, clothes, other not-very-often used items, residents not only reduce financial costs, but also their environmental impact (less waste).