Not sure what this is all about? This is a report on one of the property candidates for our crowdfunding campaign to create a co-owned co-operative coliving space!
☃️ 14–19°C 🏖 33–39° ☀️ 13 days ☔️ 9 days
Some points against the area:
2750m² across 4 floors and 3 buildings • potentially 450–2500m² land
Scores bad on value due to high acquisition cost (total cost as value is good). Okay on effort as first building is easy but others involve significant effort however can be deferred. Great on garden thanks to stream and terraces. Only good on neighbourhood due to railway. Okay on towns due to there being few, and provincial. Great on sustainability thanks to climate (mild winter and mostly natural cooling in summer), plus if with solar and/or hydro (not budgeted).Part of the garden terraces and the vines trailing over their steps.
Typical occupancy would be around 40 (including volunteers, but excluding cohousing), and capacity can potentially increase to over 75 for occasional events. All rooms can be configured as double or twin, except standard rooms which will be double only.
The variety and distance amongst all the spaces means that different folks could simultaneously be having a high-octane karaoke session — yet also be seeking quiet solitude in the library or by the stream, perhaps even avoiding each other (heaven forbid!).
The property offers a large number of units, which despite the increased acquisition and fitout costs has many benefits. We can welcome more volunteers, run more residencies such as hosting artists participating in the streetart festival. We would also be able to host Wifitribe/Remote Year type programmes not to mention team retreats (boosting revenues), and larger more diverse events such as festivals! Finally of course, it means booking for co-owners will be much easier as we could have a larger availability reserved for share use.
There is no parking on site nor the lane, as it will be reserved for our (two) shared minivans. Visitors would have to park in town (best is near the railway, 15mins walk). Thus the property is not likely to have much function as a hub for locals. In any case there is already a small creative-focussed coworking in town. As an adjunct to the town for events it is however good being walking distance.
The property is being divided from a large tract including a separate small house at its top. Most of the land is not included as being sold with the house, at an asking price of €60k. At least the small terrace next to the stream (and 1st building) plus the terrace behind the cohousing (3rd building) can be negotiated to be included without affecting the price. Some of the remaining land could be included for a small increase, however the house and its remaining land may not sell so could be acquired separately in future.
There will be a share allocation equivalent to 420 months (35 units), plus cohousing. As 30% of this will be allocated to preference shares, only 294 months will be available for coliving co-ownership. (Although shares will be issued at the equivalent value of 2 weeks in a standard room.)
The return is anticipated after 8–12 years. Maintenance and replacements have budgeted lifetimes, thus no additional investment is expected for at least twenty years. Moderate additional investment (such as for core upgrades and replacing end-of-life roofing) should easily extend this to fifty years before the integrity of the concrete would be reaching its typical lifespan (although there are emerging approaches that can extend it).
The major is risk is an inability to afford completion of the 3rd building which is in a poor state. There are affordable approaches that can be employed, such as new poured concrete columns and wall which would allow the replacement of the old without requiring complex roof support. However if no solution is possible this would result in the following scenario until one could be funded:
Whilst the 2nd building is being completed the following would also apply:
It is towards the bottom of the undeveloped little valley with all the abandoned factories, as such is quieter than the middle but not as much as the top, and feels as if it's not in the town, nor the suburbs. There's lots of small agricultural plots with trees all around, and a spring feeding an irrigation channel.
The railway is quite prominent with its singletrack bridge hanging across the valley just on front of the buildings. The property does have terraces that look up the valley as well.
Withstanding the potential for a shortcut across the neighbours land and along the railway, there are two points of access. From the road at the bottom of the valley, or winding up into the town.
We'll be mainly 'budget' but we don't want too much of that typical budget chipboard aesthetic! So we'll invest in a few finishes that uplift, notably cork because it's local, along with that admitted trad shabby-chic look because it's affordable to go around flea markets and resurrect furniture. Things we won't skimp on are those that get used most, so solid wood kitchen surfaces and desks.
The house will predominantly be on-grid electric, however many attempts will be made to reduce resource use and consumption by virtue of our collectivity. We will be resurrecting a novel technique for reducing heating in winter, whilst in summer we will benefit from natural cooling. The sauna will however be wood fired, with its heat boosting the thermal store.
Coworking desks will give ~1.4m per person albeit with basic adjustable chairs, many will have built-in USB-C (PD) sockets so you can leave your adapter behind! Some desks will be specified as premium for a surcharge with an executive chair and display (to be included with premium rooms). There will be a variety of standing desks and banquettes.
During winter, underfloor heating will be used in the ground floor living room (thus residually heating the kitchen above), coworking spaces, and laundry. This will be powered by a thermal store heated using a water brake on a mechanical generator in the stream (whose increased flow corresponds to heating needs), boosted with electric elements. All other areas including bedrooms will use a combination of electric radiant infrared panels and convection heaters, on presence sensors thus avoiding wasted heating yet delivering instant heat when present.
During summer the building shall benefit from the natural cooling of stone walls embedded into the hillsides, supplemented by ceiling fans in every room. There will be no A/Cs, however a dip in the stream or pool is always possible. The pool will be naturally fed and filtered from the stream through a sand and reed bed.
It is assumed all rooms would have fairly even temperature distribution through the use of the ceiling fans. An air circulation system could be installed for the top floor and kitchen of the 1st building, drawing cool air in from the covered terrace next to the stream, and/or basement; these rooms would thus also need outlets. Vents for inward air would be located at ground level near the door, and extraction both in the shower and at the same level adjacent. The extraction vents would be connected to roof chimneys shared between rooms and connected through sound reduction chambers. Without using fans, the stack effect will naturally draw cooler air from below into the room and out the roof vents. In the case of mezzanines, the fan would distribute the temperature differential. With inline fans, the circulation would be increased such as just before bedtime to evacuate accumulated heat. This would be done simply by activating the extraction fan. During normal use common areas would draw most of the flow.
All windows must be replaced, a significant expense as there's over 100, thus they will be standardised and supplied from China, which is at least 30% cheaper despite import duties. All 3m high from floor, and 1m wide. The living/kitchen windows are stone framed at different sizes, but will be adapted to take the standard window.
Most will have roller shutters and mosquito nets which allows for versatile use. The shutters can be closed at night for additional insulation, and on sunny windows can be partly closed, and will be automated. Double glazing will be specified only for the workspaces, lounge and library windows as are used throughout the day and thus more sensitive to noise. Losses during the day are nominal due to better ambient temperatures, and only part-time use of those spaces. Whilst PVC is the most affordable, the frames will be aluminium as again it has a longer life. (Wood is too expensive at this scale, although is more responsible, better for insulation and can be equally long lived.)
Private bathrooms will have mist showers (not rain!) with multiple nozzles for an enveloping experience that uses both less water (~5L/min) and thus also less electricity. Nonetheless there will be several large shared bathrooms with big (mirrored) windows that also have baths and adjustable shower heads for variation. All WCs will be equipped with a bidet nozzle/douche.
Every few bathrooms will share smaller water tanks boosted with instant heaters, delivering heat quickly to avoid running taps.
There will be a dedicated warm water circuit to feed water heaters, this will be circulated (to offset heat losses) and heated from the thermal store.
This design avoids heating wastage and Legionella risks from having a central long-distance hot water circuit and pre-heating in winter reduces peak load requirements.
Door locks will work with any contactless bank or transport card you're carrying or your phone, rather than requiring you be issued with a new card.
The main kitchen will provide more than enough fridge space for everyone, and a separate larder with dedicated spaces too. We will favour simple efficient equipment such as stainless steel, however for our chefs and anyone suitably inducted we will maintain a small number of premium items such as ceramic knives. There will be a dedicated veggie station and chopping boards.
Almost entirely ground (single-pass) and sealed (self-levelling) cement overlay (or possibly concrete slab), not polished, although a finer grit (double pass) would be used for kitchens. (A preference would be limecrete/hempcrete as this would regulate humidity and reduce noise however would add costs and complexity.)
The library and plus or better rooms will benefit from cork floors. The focus workspace and lounge will have parquet and main kitchen, terracotta tiles.
All rooms are full of light benefitting from a huge 3m2 window with rollerblind and semi-opaque privacy curtain).
'Standard' ensuite bedrooms are open-plan with a mezzanine. At 2m70 wide, they are similar to a typical small bedroom, on the plywood floored mezzanine this is wide enough for a double bed with walking space, extending half way into the room (2m50, 7m2), leaving good space (~13m2) on the ground level for dressing and the bathroom facilities with cement floor. Fitout is extremely basic, with only a clothes rail, some shelves, fitted lights and heating. The windows looks over the lane and gets the evening sun.
'Plus' rooms look over the stream, getting morning sun, are better specified with cork floor, and fractionally larger with some decorations including more use of wood, a table lamp… 'Premium' rooms are big, with a hob for quick cookups, mini-fridge, and eating/working area with stool and some decorative niceties. Studios are significantly larger with armchairs and table.
All bedroom walls will have 25mm of plasterboard on both leafs for acoustic density, plus standard infill insulation. Service walls (generally every other wall and containing a waste pipe) will be decoupled (double track) with a large void for improved acoustic damping. Premium rooms will additionally have a sandwich of woodfibre providing further decoupling. Mezzanines will be mounted on solid pillars to prevent vibrations passing between neighbouring units.
The upfront costings do not include insulating the outer walls, this is only included for the 1st building in the deferrable costs and would have no benefit with single glazing.
Top floor rooms may have ventilation extractors, with a roof outlet shared between two rooms
The 1st building's roof will not carry any new loads and each truss will gain an additional central support to reduce its stress, extending its life. Insulation and ceilings will be carried by the new walls.
This property's 3rd building is ideal for cohousing, with each of its 7 units having an anticipated cost of ~€35k. Only plumbing, electric and air extraction connections, door and windows (both full height, double-glazed with roller shutters) will be provided with no internal decoration, floor/mezzanine, nor ceiling finishing. Everything is for the purchaser to specify, however available collective labour may be used for the works and a basic fitout package could be done from €5k. Bear in mind that if you want to rent it, you need to make it appeal and standout versus the other units.
Each has floorspace of 55m2 including a half mezzanine; the unit width is ~4m80 with ground floor depth of (including small bathroom) 6m50, and 5m on the mezzanine which extends above the bathroom, doorway and passage, thus the front of the unit's depth is also 5m with full ceiling height to the roof apex at 6m60. It could be extended the full length for two bedrooms. The front wall is ~3m70 high with two windows reaching 3m whilst the mezzanine wall would be ~1m40. It would be possible to install skylights, good at the rear over the mezzanine. Inter-studio walls will be deep (as they enclose the timber structure) with woodfibre insulation. Floor will be ply and suitable for parquet or tiling.
The owner may engage a rental management contract with Hub House and the unit will then be listed with the others at their chosen price, however this may not be any lower than the studio price, and every booking will incur a fee (decided annually by the board). A monthly community maintenance fee shall also apply, however shall be lower than that for colivers. Else the owner may rent it themselves, however they must register their guests on the Hub House system, and inform them of the community contract. The owner and their guests will have use of the whole property. TODO: move to questions page
Cohousing shares do not pay dividends, however there's nothing stopping you holding multiple classes of share. The reason for this is that it is up to the owner to specify their space, and no offence but it might be awful, or you may simply leave it empty. Such activities would denigrate the collective offering and should not thus be rewarded. If you rent it, all booking revenue is yours, after your costs contribution, and if using Hub House to manage rentals, a corresponding fee.
The following quick render gives an idea of a possible open-plan layout, with a super-king bed on the mezzanine and 3-seat sofa below. Note the extremely high ceiling which in this layout has impact in both the sleeping and lounge area. With lockable cupboards under the stairs and next to the door, even a lockable wardrobe, and you'd be all set for renting and return home whenever you fancied.
Due to the scale and cost, the works would be undertaken in phases thus some spaces in the 1st building will be repurposed until complete (e.g. the multipurpose space would function as the workspace).
The 1st 1970s main building only needs some minor roof repairs as it has a modern steel truss structure, although as a result will need some extra insulation and strengthening (with new walls).
The older buildings across the stream need much more work, the 2nd for the living/kitchen requires demolishing the roof dormers and rebuilding that part of the roof, repairing the rest, removal of the attic floor, plus entirely rebuilding the first floor (a solid iron frame exists for this however). The 3rd long warehouse, requires half it's floor to be repaired and strengthened which is fairly simple, plus some roof repairs which may include some new timbers and strengthening (e.g. with support columns).
However the 3rd building (cohousing and workspace) also requires its front wall on both stories to be reconstructed. This can be done with moderate complexity by creating new concrete foundations and structural pillars around the existing timber structures to carry their load, before removing the old facade and building a new one, also with concrete formwork. The ground floor already has stone columns, and the first three also extend to the roof as there is no basement in this section, thus enabling the first one or two studios to be created without requiring this process be started.
This property has an elevated cost due to its significant size. The first more modern building can be renovated, fitout and operational with around 25 units without any complex works. This however leaves two additional buildings. To complete these I am proposing the addition of cohousing, from which the sale of the units would thus enable the entire complex to be completed.
The forecast yield, would not be affected by this work, however it would be affected by the increased capacity and reduced rates, thus probably taking longer to deliver.
It's likely there will only be two seasonal rates, not three as indicated here, as a result the off-peak rates would be increased. Peak rates may still apply during festivals and events.