Cohaus is a community of people designing and financing our own twenty-unit housing development in Grey Lynn, Auckland.
Our vision is to build affordable housing that uses smart design and innovative technology to create a community where it’s easy to live comfortably while minimising resource use.
We know others are interested in our journey, so we’re working closely with The Urban Advisory in a participatory research project to document the challenges and successes of our co-housing project. Through documenting our project as a real-world case study, we hope to help others to build alternative housing models around Aotearoa New Zealand
May 2019: Open house! Come visit us on Sunday 19 May, 1:00-2:30pm to have a cuppa, a look around and celebrate the history and future of the site. Get the invite here (pdf).
April 2019: The Villa unit is available for a future resident! See details below for the options of buying as a renovated unit or as a do up.
April 2019: Building consent is in and we are negotiating with a main contractor. Site works will hopefully start in June.
December 2018: We've been granted Resource consent! An article about the decision was published on Stuff
For the latest updates, follow Cohaus on Twitter.
For coverage in the Media details below
Cohousing is a group of people working together to build homes that they themselves will live in. Facilities are shared within the cohousing community so that individual units offer greater amenity than in a commercial property development. By removing the profit margin and by sharing resources, cohousing produces good quality housing at a more affordable price than commercial developments.
Cohousing is designed, built and lived in by people who plan to be long-term residents. A sense of community responsibility, both between the residents and to neighbouring property owners, is core to the project.
Cohousing has been shown to work internationally with a 50-year track record in countries such as Denmark, Germany, and the United States.
We are building Cohaus because we believe in community but also in response to Auckland's current housing crisis.
Auckland house prices have historically been about four times the median household income. Prices jumped in the mid-2000s to six times and from 2013 skyrocketed to be now nearly ten times the median household income.
The social impact of this unprecedented rise in house prices will take a generation to play out but the barriers to home ownership are clear. In 2006, 46.5% of Auckland adults lived in houses they partly owned, just five years later that rate had dropped to 43.4%. The large majority of Aucklanders can no longer afford to own their own home.
Alternative models of housing and home ownership need to be explored.
Deciding where you and your family will live is always difficult. Finding a place where twenty households might live is even harder. We used these criteria to find a suitable site for Cohaus:
Cohousing takes many forms with all sorts of different types of buildings, environments, kinds of communities and levels of community interaction.
We have purchased the Fairleigh Lodge site on the corner of Browning St, Firth Road and Surrey Crescent. In 2017, the owner of Fairleigh lodge decided to close the lodge and offered the site for sale and redevelopment.
This site meets all our criteria. It offers a unique opportunity in the Surrey Crescent area: it is large (the size of 5 or 6 individual sites), irregularly shaped and sits on an arterial road surrounded by a mix of building types. The area is well connected to transport links, with a new cycleway past the front of the site, major bus routes along Surrey Crescent and Great North Road and close to motorways. It is also very close to West Lynn and Grey Lynn local shopping centres with several schools and parks within fifteen minutes' walk.
We are pleased to be able to retain the heritage villa currently on the site where it will be repositioned to the north-west of the site. The new position of the villa will enhance the character of Browning Street.
The site currently has an old villa and a sprawl of newer annexes and extensions. We plan to remove the modern additions and to move the villa to the corner of the site where it will continue the line of villas up Browning Street. See the villa section below for more about our plans for this building.
Our current plans propose a three-storey building on Surrey Crescent and Browning Street and a two-storey building on the bondary parallel to Firth Road. Both buildings are arranged around a shared north-facing courtyard.
The buildings will house 19 units ranging in size from one bedroom to five bedrooms. The central garden courtyard will be the focus of the development. There will be shared facilities including a guest bedroom, a common room, storage, laundry, bike parking, cars and car parking.
On site, we will provide at least 30 cycle and 10 car parks. At least two of the car parks will be for shared cars which will be owned collectively by the Cohaus community.
The buildings are set away from close neighbours. The buildings will present a friendly interface with the surrounding streets and the neighbourhood. The ground floor units will have gardens and entrances directly off the street, while units on upper levels and the courtyard building will be accessed through broad, open passageways.
We have made a detailed information leaflet about options for the villa which we summarise here.
The Villa currently sits in the middle of the site and is probably the oldest building on the block, thought to have been built around 1890. We are moving it to the north-west corner of the site, to sit at 1 Browning St.
There are two options for buying it as a unit within Cohaus. The first is that we renovate it to be a 132m2, three bedroom unit. The second is that it is sold as is for someone to renovate themselves (roughly within the 132m2 envelope). Based on our at-cost, non-profit model, we expect the renovated villa unit to cost about $1.7m or the as-is villa to be about $1.1m. Living here you would be a full member of Coahus with access and use of common areas and community.
If we are unable to find a buyer to be part of Cohaus, we will sell the villa as is in its new location on a subdivided 400m2 section. Whoever bought that would be a neighbour of Cohaus.
If you are interested in the Villa please email us at email@example.com.
The image below shows how the front of the villa will look from Browning Street.
As of December 2018, 18 of the 20 planned units are taken. Households range from families of five to single people. Some people within the group have known each other for many years and others have just met through Cohaus in the last year. All members of the group share a commitment to strong communities and living in a way which cares for our environment.
We are keeping a list of people who are interested in joining our group as our plans are finalised and in case any spaces become available.
Feel free to get in touch with us if you are curious about our plans or living in the Cohaus, if you are a neighbour or community member wondering how our plans will affect you, or just want a chat!
The best way to contact us is to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow us on Twitter to keep up with latest developments on the project.
Cohousing is a mainstream housing model in Northern Europe and the USA with many discussions, books, videos and other resources about cohousing available. A few are listed here:
More and more people are interested in alternative housing models, and how communities can work together to build housing that is sustainable, affordable and high-quality. Check out some of the conversations about Cohaus below:
Interviews with group members on Newstalk ZB (2018-07-25) and the since rebranded RadioLIVE (2018-05-12) are no longer available on the web.