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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is cohousing?
    Cohousing is a type of intentional neighborhood in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of the community. The physical design encourages social contact while preserving privacy. Households have independent incomes and private lives, but residents collaboratively plan and manage community activities and shared spaces. Community activities typically feature regularly scheduled shared meals, meetings, and workdays. Residents also gather for parties, games, movies, or other events. Cohousing makes it easy to form clubs, organize child and elder care, and carpool. Cohousing facilitates interaction among neighbors and thereby provides social, practical, economic, and environmental benefits.
  • Is cohousing growing in our area of North Carolina?
    Yes, and across the country too. According to the Cohousing Association of the United States, "Around the world when people learn about cohousing, they begin to envision a better life leading to a movement that includes more than 165 communities occupied in the US and about 140 in formation." Durham is a veritable epicenter for cohousing with at least 10 cohousing groups in the area. One of our founding members, Jim, was featured in a 2018 article about Durham as a national leader in the cohousing movement.
  • How can I learn more about the cohousing concept?
    Watch: Cohousing: The Future of Community and Human Connection | Trish Becker-Hafnor | TEDxCherryCreekWomen Read: The Case For Cohousing: Where Responsibilities Are Shared And Life Is A Little Less Lonely | Cognoscenti Read: about the What and Why of cohousing from the Cohousing Association of the United States
  • Who lives at Bull City Commons?
    We are 23 member households – singles and couples (and a family), working and retired, volunteers and activists. Our lives are full and rich! Some of us have lived and traveled around the world; some of us enjoy the quiet of home. We have come together around the pursuit of kindness, respect, and support for individual and community wellbeing. We all value community, share our diverse skills and interests, and offer mutual support to each other. The people of Bull City Commons represent a wide range of faiths and beliefs. We value diversity and look forward to expanding and enriching our world as we learn from one another.
  • How was the project developed?
    We self-developed the community using a Limited Liability Company (LLC) legal structure. Under this structure, we were able to avoid hiring a private developer, and therefore we saved on development fees that would add substantially to the cost of the development. Instead, we hired our own experts, including: Christine Westfall, an experienced project manager who helped develop the Durham Central Park Cohousing Community in Durham, to serve as our project manager to handle day-to-day development activities Weinstein Friedlein Architects as our architects Emerson Land Planning, PLLC, to provide site planning and landscape architecture services Grounded Engineering for engineering design and consulting services RESOLUTE Building Company as our general contractor We financed the construction project through a combination of our members' equity investments and a construction loan from Pinnacle Bank. Read more about our development process and Development Oversight Circle. Now that the construction project has been completed, our community has transitioned to a standard North Carolina Condo Owners Association (COA), and all BCC unit owners are members of the COA.
  • How does Bull City Commons self-govern?
    Because cohousing is an intentional community, all residents participate in shared decision-making about how we want to live together. We use a form of dynamic governance called Sociocracy, which provides an effective structure for our business meetings and interactions. Meetings and committees (called circles) are run efficiently with a facilitator, all voices are heard, and decisions are made by consent of members.
  • Do residences have their own kitchens?
    Yes. Each unit includes a kitchen. See Condo Designs.
  • Will there be an exercise room?
    While we do not have a dedicated exercise room, some of our common areas, like the lobby/lounge or multipurpose room could be used for things like yoga.
  • How effective is the sound insulation?
    Effective acoustic insulation inside the building was a top priority for our community. To dampen sound within each unit and between floors, we included: A subfloor combination of 1½” of gypcrete and an acoustic mat (standard gypcrete installation is usually only 1” thick) Individual unit flooring products glued down to an additional acoustic mat, as needed, and floated on the subfloor Double-framed demising walls that create an air space separating each unit Interior unit bathroom walls filled with fiberglass batt insulation Insulated common area hallway walls with “staggered studs” to dampen sound transmission between halls and units
  • How “green” is Bull City Commons?
    We have made "green" design choices to the extent they were financially viable. For example, our architect planned natural light where possible. We have included electrical wiring for future electric car charging stations and future solar panels on the building roof. Our choice of location in central Durham provides walkable access to parks, trails, groceries, restaurants, and more. Downtown Durham is accessible by bike, bus, or Uber/Lyft to reduce our reliance on cars.
  • What is shared in the community?
    We have several common areas including a fully stocked common kitchen and laundry room (see Building Design for a more complete list). Floors were designed with wide hallways having a few niche areas that residents can supply with a chair, card table, bookshelf, plants, or other decorations. Other examples of shared items include gardening and tools, books, puzzles, and games. Residents are usually willing to lend an item, such as a beach chair, cooler, or springform pan when you need one and don't want to buy one. Additionally, each floor has a dedicated storage closet for personal or shared items.
  • Will there be any shared meals?
    Yes. We are still figuring out the frequency of shared meals but anticipate having a community meal at least monthly if not weekly.
  • Must I be extroverted and sociable?
    No. Every member can be as public or private as they wish.
  • What if I don’t like every resident?
    In a group of 23 households, it is natural that you might get along with some people better than others. We've discovered that working together in small circles allows us to appreciate the unique strengths of other residents as we pursue common goals. Living in cohousing fosters making new and diverse connections with other residents.
  • How many parking spaces come with my unit?
    One. 18 spaces are under the parking podium and 3 are uncovered on our property.
  • Can I have pets?
    Yes. Pets are allowed, with some restrictions.
  • Will I be able to rent out my unit?
    Yes. We permit long-term rentals, but not short-term Airbnb-type rentals. However, we are an owner/member community that relies on participation, and we do restrict rentals.
  • What level of participation is expected of me?
    Cohousing is intentionally designed to be a participatory community. Each owner/resident is automatically a member of the Plenary Circle and is expected to participate in at least one other circle, which is where most of the work gets done. Most of these circles meet monthly. All owner/residents share responsibility for the management and care of the community and are expected to help with building and grounds maintenance tasks and to participate in periodic workdays.
  • Is this a retirement community or assisted living facility?
    Neither. BCC is a group of households whose members actively participate in the life of the community. Some residents have full-time or part-time careers and others are retired. Each condo unit is independently owned, and there is no formal health care assistance provided to residents. Ages range from 40s through 70s. Read more about who we are. Although we are a community group where friends and neighbors help each other in informal ways when life challenges occur, we are not an assisted living community; residents must be responsible for their own health care and personal care needs.
  • Is smoking permitted in the building?
    From the BCC bylaws: "No tobacco smoking. There shall be no use or smoking of tobacco products in any part of the Condominium, including individual units and Common Elements. This expressly prohibits the smoking of tobacco products by any method, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and all other smoking devices."* *Includes e-cigarettes and vaping devices that use nicotine.
  • Are guns permitted?
    Firearms are not permitted in the building or on the grounds.
  • Are there restrictions on the ability to sell a condo or will it to a member's heirs?
    Residents own their units and can sell their condo on the open market or transfer ownership to their designated heirs, subject to the condominium association bylaws, covenants, and policies. This is similar to how ownership of a conventional condo would transfer.
  • How can I determine whether BCC would be a good fit for me?
    It's important that prospective members be well informed before deciding to join a cohousing community. Future residents of BCC have several opportunities to get to know us, and vice versa. First, come to an information session to learn more and get your questions answered. Second, attend our monthly Plenary business meeting and experience first-hand how we operate, make decisions, and interact with each other. These steps are required for all prospective members and designed to help with your decision-making. You are welcome to attend any of our BCC social events too.
  • Why join the Interested Buyers List?
    If an owner desires to sell their unit, the interested buyers list will be made available to them. Interested buyers will receive our monthly newsletter and invitations to all events, both of which give you a chance to get to know us—and cohousing—better. Read about how to join the Interested Buyers List.
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