Sharing Is Saving? Building Costs Simulation of Collaborative and Mainstream Housing Designs

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Building costs play a significant role in determining the affordability of a housing project, and these depend to a large extent on design choices. This paper is based on the premise that collaborative design processes, or co-design, used in collaborative housing (CH) in Europe reduce building costs and consequently increase the affordability of these housing projects. However, research remains scarce on the extent to which CH is an affordable solution from a design perspective compared to affordable mainstream housing (MH), in which no co-design is used. Therefore, this paper aims to fill this knowledge gap by assessing the impact of design choices on building costs in CH and MH. To this end, we developed a simulation model to compare the building costs of CH with MH based on their design choices. Findings indicate that CH represents a more affordable and space-efficient solution when compared to MH, if we look at the building costs per unit. This is because CH provides less expensive units while it includes larger common spaces and extra quality. These results help to refute existing claims about the unaffordability of CH design solutions.