A Unique Cohousing Co-Ownership Opportunity

There is a “one of a kind” residential unit in Prairie Spruce Commons that offers a world of possibilities for private living space. Unit number 301 is located near the elevator on the third floor and overlooks Badham Blvd. This residence is a combination of our one-bedroom-plus-den unit and a second bedroom with its own full bath and private entrance. The east side of the unit is identical to units 101 and 201 while the west side of the unit is identical to the guest suites on the first and second floor. This combination makes unit 301 the largest in the building at 1180 square feet.

With advanced notice, the second bedroom and den can be reconfigured to create a full three-bedroom unit that can accommodate a young family. Alternatively the den can be flipped to open up onto the second bedroom thereby creating an additional seating area for the second bedroom. This second type of configuration would effectively create a Master Suite with its own entrance, bedroom, bathroom and sitting area but with shared access to the unit’s kitchen and living area. With the Master Suite configuration prospective members could share ownership of unit 301 as tenants in common under a co-purchase arrangement.

The unique configuration of this unit provides some great flexibility for families, empty-nesters taking care of elder parents, or young professionals wishing to share ownership of a unit in a walkable neighbourhood close to the university, the General Hospital and the downtown core.

For most cohousing groups there are buyers who find that it is feasible and more affordable for them to co-purchase their new home with another person or another household. Having common facilities and a strong sense of community is often what makes this possible. Sometimes the other party is another homeowner within the community and sometimes they are external friends or family (e.g. a grandparent). Sometimes the co-purchasers will occupy the new home together or alternatively, one owner member may live there and rent out part of the unit to another resident member.

Of course, co-purchase options can be applied to any unit at Prairie Spruce Commons and not just unit 301. Co-purchasing is just one idea for creating more affordability in cohousing that is available to prospective members. If you are interested in joining our community and would like to learn more about ideas for affordability, send us an email or post a comment below. We’d be glad to talk to you about ideas worth exploring!


Prairie Spruce: A Place Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Where Everybody Knows Your Name by Prairie Spruce Cohousing
Photo courtesy of Nick Erwin on Flickr

In today’s common suburbanism, it’s far too easy to live an anonymous, solitary life. Get in your car, open the garage door, drive to work, do the 9-to-5, drive back home, open the garage, close the garage, flick on the TV…

But there’s an alternative! Imagine being able to walk or bike to and from work downtown, at the University of Regina, or at the General Hospital, and then coming home to a community where everyone knows your name and considers you an important part of their lives. This is the vision I and many of my future neighbours have for Prairie Spruce Cohousing.

I’m looking forward to greeting and having regular conversations with my fellow residents on my way to my own private condo unit. I’m looking forward to having my spirits lifted by my friends and neighbours. I’m looking forward to activities inside and outside of Prairie Spruce Common House. The opportunity to take part in community meals, for example, will give me free time to spend with my family or to go for a walk beside Wascana Lake before supper. When I leave on a vacation, I’ll know with certainty that my home and property will be secure and well taken care of  since I’ll personally know everyone in the building.

There are but some of the meaningful advantages to life in cohousing and I’m sure I’ll discover more!


Walking the Neighbourhood – Wascana Park

Wascana Lake Close by Prairie Spruce Cohousing
Photo courtesy of Blake Handley on Flickr

When I was walking around Wascana Lake this morning, it occurred to me that we do not have to go far for truly beautiful scenery.  The lake was a glistening blue, and the ducks and geese were enjoying a lazy swim.   On the north side of the lake, the folks who were sitting on the benches had a peaceful view of blue sky and water framed by green trees.  Around on the south side, in front of the Legislative Buildings, the flower beds were at their best.

No need to drive miles for spectacular landscape when it is just a short walk from Badham Boulevard, summer or winter!


Walking the Neighbourhood – The Naked Bean

Sunday was a sultry humid summer day in Regina. We decided to stroll down Badham Boulevard from the future site of Prairie Spruce Commons Cohousing to the Naked Bean Espresso Bar and Café. Our choice was iced tea sodas (berryberry and green tea), but there was also a brisk business in ice cream cones and floats today.

What a friendly, relaxing place to have your favourite tea or coffee, whether you are meeting friends or having quiet time on your own. Aren’t we lucky to have the Naked Bean in the Prairie Spruce neighbourhood!?


The Value and Cost of Cohousing in Regina

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.

Prairie Spruce Cohousing Pricing
Photo courtesy of Ken Teegardin on Flickr

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.

Prairie Spruce Cohousing WalkabilityWhen 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.