Key points from the Triodos webinar on co-housing projects

Hello @reeflings,

@lie and I listened to this webinar tonight. Below the summary info on the webinar and then a summary account in bullet points. I think it didn’t add much learning to our Brutopia visit except for more clarity on the utility of working with Triodos - and more links to resource people and materials.

Webinaire “Habitat groupé : témoignages et conseils pratiques”

Lors de ce wébinaire, sous forme d’un panel d’échanges, des cohabitants de la Ferme de Lizée à Crupet et de l’Échappée à Laeken apporteront leur témoignage sur leur lieu de vie et la réalisation de leur projet.

Bien que portés par des valeurs semblables, les deux projets sont différents dans leur forme et leur structure : Community Land Trust ou co-propriété, quelles différences ? Les habitants partageront leurs expériences et reviendront sur les étapes et les défis rencontrés dans leurs projets.

Intervenants du panel :
Banque Triodos : Isabelle Huens, Senior Relationship Manager
Projet La Ferme Lizée : Marion Lory et Véronique Van den Eede
Projet L’Échappée : Marie Betbèze et Louis Carré
Modérateur : Matthieu Peltier

Date : mardi 12 octobre de 19 à 20h30

Notable facts about the two projects presented:
• Starting point was a group of 5. They elaborated a charter on the basis of which they invited further participants.
• They were accompanied by Marc Van den Vriese.
• The project took seven years to realise. Process helped build the group.
• The property search only took 6 months.
• They shared the work through working groups who elaborated propositions for the whole group. Working group members kept track of their time spent so as to keep tack on the equilibrium of contributions.
• Co-proprieté amendé
• Regrets: social mixity could have received more attention in the set-up of the project
La Ferme de Lizée:
• Starting point was a couple who found a farm for sale.
• Community Land Trust (a foundation which owns the land; houses are individual property; house owners pay a monthly fee to the foundation, which pays off the loan the foundation took to buy the grounds.
• Regrets: none

Specific aspects discussed (insights from all participants):
• Sociocracy: the decision-making practice which both project groups used, based on consent rather than consensus (objections to a proposal have to be followed up with improvement proposals until everybody can ‘live with’ the proposition); important to learn this method, perhaps during a weekend workshop.
• Legal form: advice to think of the activities the group wants to carry out first and then search the legal form appropriate to the activities. Get advice from a notary.
• Change of ownership/passing on of ownership through inheritance: successors have to subscribe to the charter to be accepted as cohabitants. If cohabitants object to a successor, they have to find a different successor … (?)
• Role of architect: feasibility assessment, communication with the authorities around permitting, coaching on practical aspects (e.g. ‘observable’ house entrances vs ‘discrete’ entrances) and potential future problems, allotting of units according to financial capabilities and wishes.

The role of/advice of Triodos bank:
• Never too early to make an appointment. Important to get a handle on all the costs that will incur (frais d’acte, frais de notaire …)
• Important to contact the relevant public authorities (l’urbanisme, pompiers) before carrying out a property purchase to find out about any use restrictions or any regulatory constraints.
• 1st appointment with the whole group or one of their working groups, then individual meetings with each entity to assess their financial situation and the lending risk for the bank
• Triodos’ fees vary according to the lending risk involved but not by any other criteria and are transparent.

Further resources:
• Manuel pratico-pratique de L’Echappée
• Triodos website
• Website of Habitat & Participation
• Recording of webinar (link to follow)
• Both projects are open to engaging with interested people and/or provide coaching.


Thanks for this, Sabine! I have some questions/remarks:

Was this brown field or renovation?

Good idea, though it takes some discipline.

Everybody did that. With one exception, that I forgot to write in my in my notes: in Brutopia (and in general), Marc said that the only decision you make by majority vote is that of the terrain/building to acquire.

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Hi @alberto, L’Echappee was a new build. Here their website:

Thanks a lot Sabine! I don’t have anything to add to it.

I found both co-housings very inspiring, both in terms of process and in terms of outcome.

At some point I think I would like to contact the people of L’Echappée. The guy from L’Echappee said that they had really benefited from a sort of “group discussion coach”, who now is one of their co-housers. I understood this person offers their services, so this may be of interest to us.

On another note: I won’t be writing a report about the Triodos webinar of the next day (in Dutch), just because I found it much less interesting.

The panelists were Botanico co-housing in Leuven and Gumm co-housing in Mechelen. Botanico is a project that was accompanied by Cohousing Projects. Gumm did everything DIY.

Contrary to the webinar in French, in the Dutch one there was a lot of talk about bank-related issues that I found less interesting or at least less useful for us. One example is a system of co-housing in which there are private units, but the mortgage is collective (so if one inhabitant defaults, the others suffer along). Another example was a question about “tiny houses” and whether they can be part of a co-housing (answer: for a bank yes, as long as it is attached to the ground - so no wheels that can take you to the Bahamas leaving nothing for the bank).

That being said, I found the Gumm co-housing another pretty inspiring example. They renovated a church and plan to make it a meeting point for the neighbourhood.

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Hulls, rather! :slight_smile:

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For the sake of completeness, these are the links to where you could watch the webinars again: