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Advanced Co-Housing Techniques

Here’s my presentation for Ignite Seattle 13.  It’s lessons from the trenches of living in a large group house.

Or you can watch the original presentation on video.

The topics I touch on are:

  • Raising kids in a group house
  • Choosing your housemates
  • How to deal with somebody needing to sell their share of a house
  • Hiring a lawyer to write a Tenancy in Commons contract
  • How to get a crazy loan
  • Living with lots of people
  • Governance systems for a house
  • Capitalist vs Communist chore systems
  • Gamifying chores
  • Hiring a housekeeper
  • Economies of scale in a group house
  • How cooking scales up
  • Sharing food in general
  • Limitations of accounting
  • Letting go of control
  • Mis-behaving furniture

And when I say “touch on” I mean it.  Each of those topics are lucky to get a full sentence in my 5-minute talk.  There’s so much more I had considered including, but with an Ignite talk, you’ve got to make tough choices about what gets included.  I could write an entire blog post about each of the topics above, and I just might.  (Leave a comment if there’s something in particular you’d like to hear more about.)  Here’s the list of topics I had included in earlier drafts of this talk, but all got cut before the final version:

  • How relationships scale in a big group
  • What does privacy mean, and what really matters
  • Analogy to college dormitory lifestyle and its limitations
  • Personality traits to seek or avoid in co-housing partners
  • Social vs. Legal Contracts and what belongs in each
  • Balancing preservation of house sanctity vs. owners’ rights in contracts
  • Financial ownership models and associated accounting techniques
  • How living in a group can minimize interpersonal differences
  • Wanderlust in desk accessories
  • Analogy between marriage and co-housing
  • Personal efficiencies through livability sustaining systems
  • Techniques for dealing with clutter
  • Architectural features that support group living

And each of these could easily get a 500 word essay as well. Encourage me, and I’ll write them! :)

  1. Leif Utne says:

    @Dave: There’s lots of good info at

    @Leo: Like Dave, I’d love to hear about all the topics you left out, and more about some of the ones you did touch on, especially about gamifying chores.

  2. leodirac says:

    Oh we thought about building for quite a while. I’m glad we decided against it in the end. Things lined up quite nicely for us to buy the place we have though.

    First follow-up on governance posted. More to come.

  3. Dave says:

    Hey, great presentation at Ignite. I’d love to hear more, tons more about how this worked out. Every item you listed which was cut (and the ones you actually gave) look interesting, and I’d be interested in learning more.

    We have a group of friends who has talked about building / buying a large place to live together, but hadn’t found any reputable source of info. Love to hear more!

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