Housing & Building Co-OPs


Lets focus the mind. I think there is great merit in this idea.

Its not the done thing these last few decades but as I write I type it from a house one of 8 houses that was built in the 50’s by a small group of friends. That was 3 generations ago. its purely conincidental that I rent this place now. Its a plain as you are Semi-D.

One thing that the PIN has demonstrated is shared intention can produce results.

It is obvious there is a good mix of abilites on the property pin for exaple and I know such a mix of people are capable using their exisiting skills attained in industriy for personal and wider benefit with better reults. In a legal “Co-Op” format, business as you like for shared social needs. remivng teh profit element means you could probbaly double or triple your aspirations. You are the builder home owner.

You have the choice of Sole Trader, Liited COmpany, Partner Ship and Co-OP. So the legal framework .

For arguemtns sake there is not site cost for a moment.

Lets say your average person has the earning capability to fund a 2500 sq ft home, Imagine what the collective buying and orginisational power of 10 or 20 people could do if they came together mutually to build. Its not fantasy, in fact the building socities whom loan mortages to home buyers started out this way a long time ago.

Remove the profit and get to the point. A home you love and could see generation living in for a long long time and that doens’t destory the palce you live in. There seems to be more of a culture of Housing Co-Ops in the UK and the rest of Europe but sadly as is the rental sector shabby and immature so is this end.

I would hope that all the alternative will be more than possible post boom.

Now that we’ve seen what industry can achieve and that is collapse its time to look at the alternatives with hindsight and imagination as our guide.

My idea would be to see more “Form To Build Co-op’s” form and support. It would be useful if there was a good guide or manual as a starting point and I bet we could find one from our European cousins.

There is nothing new in this its just that its not really seen as a serious option and I think its one f the most interesting.

The main issue is “the Land”.

There is only one high profile example I know of and that is thevillage.ie but from what I have heard there may be some lesson to learn from that already and its not finished AFAIK. I also don’t think you need to even go this far to do what I am talking about.

Heres one approach, find some reasonable sized existing structure.
It really doesn’t have to be that big and propose a Co-Op design that includes “up” as its primary feature. So you can build close to town or city. All you need is the right sub contractor who can output the design.

Something tells me there will be plenty looking for work.

So now that I’ve opened this topic again I’d appreciate all contributions as to how people think this can be achieved. I would prefer not to hear “it will never work in Ireland”. People said we would never have a bubble or property crash like :wink:


guardian.co.uk/politics/2005 … es.housing


Some of the designs for above are on this site:


I seen to remember a group of around 34 couples building houses in Shankhill about 25 to 30 years ago. It is either Corbawn drive or Seafield. Perhaps someone who was involved is still there. I remember the builder went bust and they had to finish the houses themselves but the end result was great.


Back in the mid/late 90s in Dublin I was (very) peripherally involved with a group who were attempting to create an ecologically and socially sound housing coop in the city. While it didn’t come to fruitition, many of those involved in went on to set up the eco village taking shape in Cloughjordan in Tipperary. I still think it’s a great idea - dififcult to implement yes, but very worthwhile. Raising cash to buy land to build something sustainable in the city limits would be very difficult for an individual, but possible for a group. Are you contemplating it in some form?


A friend did that some two years ago (although in a diffefnet country) - and I do like they idea, tbh. Instead of buying some standard, trivial, un-inspiring semi-d off the peg you get a couple of people, some ideas and an Architect open to this and build your own thing.

I would do the same immediately here in Dublin, you should be able to find a site that is usuable for a couple of good size houses and gardens.

There is I think not much chance for building your own single house (if you don’t win the lottery) as you might not be able to afford the land. Two years ago I thought the same even if you are 3 or 4 families trying to do this but as times change maybe this changes as well.


Which country was that? Denmark, Germany and Canada all seem to have a lot of experience with this sort of thing. I think the key thing is finding a group of people that shares similar goals and trusts one another. Part of the issue with the co housing scheme in Dublin was the desire to find consensus at all times - for a group of 20 or so, that’s a tall order…



Not sure if I would try with such a large group, I would merely think of say 4, 5 houses at max or so which means same number of families (hence 8 to 10 people). Difficult enough to have 10 people to agree, never mind 20.

And I fully agree with


I think to start it takes a bit of leadership.

Find a site, estimate a budget and have an outlined plan.

Then ask who wants in?
(build it and they will come?)


I would be interested in exploring the idea. I did hear some years ago that IKEA were selling 4, 6 or even 8 unit blocks in kit form complete with kitchens, bathrooms etc. It might be worth looking at as a jumping off point.

The difficult part would be the site.


I’m no expert on this, but in a lot of countries, I believe that owner groups can exercise control over disposal and letting of individual properties (like the condos and retirement campuses in the US where the residents can veto prospective owners/tennants). As far as I know, Bunreacht na hEireann enshrines absolute property rights here, making this type of control impossible, which does increase the trust requirement. Who’s to say in a couple of years that a couple of partipants won’t up and leave and simply sell to the LC, who will then let them out to students or convert them to a hotel 8)


Have you seen the eco village plans for Cloughjordan? Here’s the website:

thevillage.ie/index.php?opti … e&Itemid=1

It all sounds very nice, but I’d be a bit afraid of the forced community aspect, with all the supposedly like-minded individuals living on the same patch. They swear it won’t be like that, but I bet it will.


More info on the concept at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cohousing, plus some videos.


There is obvious potential if Local Authorities stop taking financial contributions in lieu of 20% of greenfield developments

Local Authorities could make low cost sites available to persons who qualify for affordable houses and allow them to build themselves

Until the Government stops supporting a dear Building Land Policy it is pie in the sky

Land owners treat building land or potential building land as Gold since it costs nothing to hold it and hoard it.

Tax zoned land until it is developed and there will be lots of land available.

As for organising a development it is quite easy. The big problem is whittling down the land price, particularly near a big urban area.

Until the cohort of people who want cheaper property start fielding candidates in the local elections their calls will not be heeded.

There is a huge lobby of vested interests out there who want to support property prices including our Taoiseach


Unfortunate I’ve heard its been somewhat hijakced by those with money so to speak. This owever is the opionion of a person involved early on who has now walked away from buying a site.

Co-Ops ar a good idea, the semi-d I currenlty live in was in fact built in the 60’s as a mini co-op in Dublin to boot.

Its a good idea and it doesn’t have to be a forced community. If peopel come together to build then you can’t say it was forced, there id a huge degree of freewill there.

Don’t forget either old Bertie Bones wanted us to become a bit mre community minded not so long ago and if you weren’t up for it you could get your cyanide pills in the post thank you very much.


I have seen more than one report on just this thing. In the UK I recall. You need to be careful and lay everything out before hand and even then fallouts can occur. Remember, these people will be your neighbours.


The big advantage of a Coop is that it is essentially a syndicate to buy a piece of development land, and it allows you to take out the developers profit.

There will be bargains on the development land market by 2010.

There is scope for a lot of ground work in the meantime. Obviously working to a passive standard makes sense.

A small parcel of say ten acres of development land would be ideal for a syndicate/ coop of say 50 members.

Optimising the site layout would be important and getting a single contractor to service the sites is the key issue.

The grounds works contractor needs to be well bonded.

A Coop might be structured to sell 25% of its site of members who were not in on the ground floor and thus allow initial coop members to cover the cost of servicing their site from a premium charged to later joining members.

Deposits would not be required as the land can be acquired on the licence system saving stamp duty.

Any one interested?


Its why I started the thread!


What is the license system?


The big question is organising matters in such a way that a) there is an adequate level of trust among members to enter in to the scheme so that they feel safe in doing so and b) legal safeguards that ensure they are safe in doing so.

The fact that there’s so little experience of it in this country would make me cagey about it in practice (though I think the idea is the way forward to build communities and ensure better housing design), and leave me looking at ways to engage existing friends/family members in similar setups.


List ten locations where potential members would be interested in participating