The Shedders

Manning Valley, NSW

The Shedders are three couples, now in their 60s and 70s, who set about creating a community where they could retire together, share interests and provide support for one another. After a long process, they built their dream communal-living home on a small acreage in the Manning Valley on the NSW mid north coast, about 20 minutes from Taree.

Categories: Collaborative retirement; small projects

 

About the project

 

The Shedders are three couples, now in their 60s and 70s, who set about creating a community where they could retire together, share interests and provide support for one another. After a long process, they built their dream communal-living home on a small acreage in the Manning Valley on the NSW mid north coast, about 20 minutes from Taree.

 

The home was designed by a local Taree designer, John Basden. It contains three separate suites for each couple with a bedroom, bathroom, study and deck. In addition, there is a large shared space for the kitchen, dining and lounge room. The lounge is large and open plan with enough space for wheelchairs or walking frames if/when these are needed by any of the residents.

 

There is also a Yoga Shed for yoga classes.

 

The community

 

The Shedders are Heather and Rick Bolstler, Judy and Michael Hollingworth and Daniel and Eve Weinstein. They had been friends for more than 15 years and got into the habit of holidaying together for a couple of weeks at Christmas. When they were in their 50s, the idea emerged of bringing that kind of supportive holiday atmosphere into their retirement.

 

The couples lived in Sydney and they decided to trial living together there first, before embarking on building their communal home. This experience helped them to learn that they could live with each other for longer periods.

 

Project snapshot
What is shared?
How did it happen?
Legalities

Governance

The common area contains a kitchen, dining room and lounge room. Unlike a lot of collaborative housing properties, the shared kitchen is the only kitchen. However, the pantry has dedicated individual spaces as well as shared shelves for staples such as oil, salt, and pepper. There’s also a large shared deck with an outdoor table for six, and a BBQ.

The couples pooled their funds to buy the property, which initially only had a shed on it. While they were preparing for the move from Sydney to Taree, they rented a large house together in Longueville as a trial. Eventually, they hired a designer to design their new home. The whole process took about eight years.

The residents operate a separate Shedders bank account, into which each family makes a monthly payment. This fund is used to buy things they will all use (garden supplies, lawn furniture, cleaning supplies) and for routine maintenance. The couples worked together, and with a lawyer, to develop an exit agreement that they could all agree to, covering what would happen if residents left.

Heather compiled a list of lessons from the experience, one of which is the important of working out a decision-making process. The group works towards consensus and uses a principle of “creative alignment”, which means you may not fully agree with something, but it’s not mission-critical for you. An external consultant was engaged to help facilitate critical design decisions.

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