We heard a rumour last week: our sign was going to be up on the lot soon.
To say there was anticipation would be an understatement. We checked the site daily, sometimes more than once a day. Then the posts were up and finally a group email was sent to let us know that the sign had been spotted on Friday, November 14, 2014.
Anticipation has transformed to excitement. The sign on the lot on Badham Boulevard is announcing this to be the site of “Regina’s First Cohousing Community”. We see the sign as an invitation to take action.
Why should you do this? Why should you check out this new form of housing that is coming to Regina?
You should do this because this is an exciting development in housing that in just 40 years has spread to many countries and proved successful.
You should do this if you are single, a single parent with children, married, married with children or retired.
You should do this if you want to own your own unit or may be interested in renting a unit.
You should do this if you think when people share everyday chores that it makes less work and you laugh a lot while doing them.
You should do this if you see yourself living in a building that functions as a community. A place where when you come home everyone knows your name.
People we meet consistently express their support for the concept of cohousing and the design of Prairie Spruce Commons, but we also commonly hear questions about the unit prices. We want to share the following with you to help you understand the pricing for units.
Let’s start with the costs of developing cohousing in Regina. There are two categories of costs for our project. The first category is the price we are paying the developer for the land and the building. The second category is our development overhead, or soft costs. Our chosen strategy for developing Prairie Spruce was (and still is) to buy new housing product that meets the following criteria:
designed to meet our cohousing and personal household needs;
equal to or better than the local market product in terms of quality and specification;
wholesale discounted at -10% from retail price.
Note that we have used Canterbury Commons II as our quality and specifications benchmark. Canterbury Commons II is a local retail housing product, built and sold very recently by the same developer we are partnering with.The discount allows us an additional 10% to cover our direct soft costs for marketing, membership and project management.
The resulting combination of hard costs (wholesale purchase of building and land) and soft costs amounts to the total cost for the project. This total cost is distributed proportionally over the individual unit prices. These unit prices are consistent with local prices for new housing product in Regina. Furthermore, the unit prices are calculated to ensure no profit or a loss for Prairie Spruce.
When evaluating our prices, be sure you are comparing apples to apples. First, keep in mind the desirable location and the lower long term cost of ownership that results from living within walking distance to downtown and the other amenities in the neighbourhood. For example, you can live without a car, or with one fewer car thereby saving lots of money.
Secondly, while Cohousing units are proportionally a little smaller than standard housing units, the extensive space provided by the common house amenities makes the overall square footage available to residents substantially larger. The way you should adjust for that is to apportion a square footage share of the common house to each unit and use that as a comparable unit size. As an example at Prairie Spruce, the owner of a 950 sq. ft. private unit ALSO owns a 1/27 share in a 4,100 sq ft common house. This results in 1,100 sq ft of space. When comparing to a non-cohousing product you must compare this unit to a traditional 1,100 sq ft unit.
Third, let’s consider the value and quality of the housing we are building. Our developer is building a high quality, long lasting building. In Prairie Spruce Commons this includes things like:
• better insulation (r40 walls/r60 ceilings);
• increased ceiling heights above 8 ft.;
• improved sound insulation between units (STF 50 to STF 60);
• high efficiency centralized boiler;
• in floor radiant heating and cooling;
• triplepane windows
Our Green initiatives involve things like:
• building a better building to use less fuel to heat and cool;
• including recycling and composting facilities;
• using fibre glass windows because they last longer and PVC pollutes;
• electing to not use granite countertops because of huge energy required in production;
• installing wiring for Solar Photovoltaics and future energy savings; and
• installing plumbing for Greywater recycling and future savings in waste water management
Finally, it should be noted that new housing product costs more than older housing stock. This is because new buildings are more energy efficient, better built, and will therefore last longer.
In summary, Prairie Spruce Commons is purchasing the land and building from our developer. We have designed the building and the developer has figured out the cost of getting it built. We have summed these two costs and divided the total cost into the number of units. Note, that there is no profit added to the costs before determining unit prices; the prices are set in order to fully cover the building of each unit. These prices are a reflection of total costs incurred in building Prairie Spruce Commons on Badham Boulevard.
If you are interested in living with the Prairie Spruce Commons community but feeling daunted by the prices, please talk to us. We can direct you to options for first home buyers, our Conditional Equity Memberships, as well as other purchase options we are considering.