FAQ

Cohousing is both a place and a concept. The concept is to provide a close-knit neighborhood, or a small village, where it is easy to make and maintain connections with neighbors. Touchstone has been specifically designed to allow these connections and relationships to flourish. Cohousing features private ownership of individual units coupled with common space, amenities, and community living.

Residents actively participate in the planning, design, and development of their community. The design and layout of the buildings, open space and common space is specifically intended to foster a sense of community.

Below we answer some common questions. We encourage you to also check out the informative State of Cohousing report from the U.S. Cohousing Association.

How is the community managed?

Residents are in total control of daily management of the community.

What about privacy?

Neighborhood design seeks to achieve a balance between personal privacy and community interaction. In addition, the social mores of the group include respect for individual needs for time alone.

How is home ownership legally structured?

We are a condominium association with each homeowner owning his or her own condo home. The association owns the common land and buildings. See our master deed and bylaws for details.

Is cohousing based on a specific ideology, shared values or religious or spiritual beliefs?

Our members represent many diverse beliefs. There are no shared community-based ideologies or spiritual and political beliefs.

How do I get started to join a community? Is there a screening process?

We encourage people who are interested to first come on a tour. We then invite you to come to a common meal, a social event, and a plenary meeting. We want you to be informed about Touchstone, how we live and the prior decisions we have made for community life.

We have no screening process. The main element to joining is a willingness to commit to being a member of the community. This commitment precedes the purchase of a home. It is the shared commitment to the community that keeps it vibrant and alive.

How much do the homes cost?

Touchstone has a variety of floor plans. The smallest home is 500 square feet, and the largest is 1,800 (2,400 with a finished basement). Our one- and two-bedroom units feature either a walk-up attic with dormers or a basement. All of the three bedroom units have basements. Check out our units for rent or sale for current prices.

What if a member wants to move out of the community and sell his or her home?

The process is simple. You can try to sell your unit on your own (most cohousers do so successfully) or hire a realtor. Because of life changes and other reasons, some moves do occur, but we’ve found that is happens much less frequently than in other condo developments.

The seller and the rest of the community will benefit if everyone lends a hand in finding new owners. When it comes to resales, experience has shown that homes in cohousing have appreciated faster than the market as a whole.

What about rentals?

Touchstone currently offers units on a rental basis. We anticipate that there will always be a few rental units which are owned by members who intend to move in later or who are away for a period of time. In some communities, individual households rent out their “in-law” apartments or finished basement apartments. Most residents agree that rental units are a positive addition to a community.

How do common meals work?

Common meals are optional. They are offered several times per week. The cooking team posts a menu, and people sign up if they want to come. The cost of a meal (typically $3 – $6) is shared by those who come for the meal.

How are commonly owned facilities, landscaping, or gardens cared for?

Usually, we work together on common property care and maintenance.

How much participation is required?

Currently we are asking each adult to work a few hours work each month, which may include cooking or other community tasks, committee work, or projects.

What about safety and security?

Touchstone is a safe and secure place to live because we all know each other and watch our for one another. Since garages and parking are on the perimeter, walking, toddling, bike riding for “little ones” is very safe. Everyone knows everyone, and when strangers come on site they are generally met by a friendly, but inquisitive Touchstone resident.

Cohousing parents typically say that their neighborhoods feel extremely safe for raising children. For example, if a child falls off a swing when out of his or her parent’s immediate sight, another adult will surely assist the child. Additionally, everyone helps protect and maintain the property for a resident traveling out of town.

What if I don’t like someone in the group?

It isn’t essential for everyone in a cohousing community to like every neighbor. In fact, a variety of personalities will add interest to neighborhood life. Cohousing residents need only share the goal of making their lives more enjoyable by cooperating with their neighbors.

How are disputes about issues like pets, noise, and property upkeep handled?

One of cohousing’s great strengths is the assumption that members can work out their conflicts. Mostly we use consensus decision-making process, which tends to satisfy most residents and give us a sense of participation on challenging issues. We can, if need be, convene our conflict resolution team when a particularly hot issue arises.

Where can I get more information about cohousing?

The Cohousing Association of the United States has a great article explaining cohousing.