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Unit Pricing

The goal of this project is to create a community rather than a profit. We are selling homes at the cost of construction, land, site work and other necessary costs.  Since buildings are built as we sell them, the contract for construction is entered into when we have enough units spoken for to construct a building (at least half of the units). At that point construction costs are provided and we can calculate the price of the units. In general home prices are similar to previously built units with some inflation.  We can provide you with a “ball park” idea of what your unit will cost but the final price will not be locked in until you sign a purchase agreement for a home at Prairie Hill.  

Can we design our own floor plan? 

In the interest of keeping costs as low as possible we do not offer custom designed homes. We do have a portfolio of designs to choose from and small changes are possible. We won’t consider changes to entries, windows and load bearing walls. There is some flexibility in layout for dwellings not yet constructed. Additional costs associated with changes will be the responsibility of buyers.

Sustainable Living

Our goal at Prairie Hill is to provide homes for people who wish to live simply and lightly on the earth. Each household has full access to the common house, playground, workshop and garden space. A portion of the 5,000 square foot common house and the 7 acres of land is deeded with each home at closing. We are building small green homes constructed for performance. These homes are tight, quiet and airy with nine-foot ceilings and high quality windows.  Our goals are light, openness and energy efficiency.  The performance of these buildings has exceeded expectations. And the sustainable features don’t stop with the buildings. We are landscaping with native, deep-rooted prairie plants that, when fully established, will keep storm water on our hilly site. The goal is to keep the water from most rain events on site and out of the waterways. 

How much does it cost to live at Prairie Hill?

Homeowners association fees

Homeowners association (HOA) fees are based on our yearly budget which is presented to all members for discussion and approval. The base HOA fee is currently $85 a month which includes high speed internet. An additional amount for replacement reserves is paid monthly and varies according to unit size from $61 to $92 per month. These reserves cover exterior maintenance of all units and common elements. The replacement reserve amount is determined by a professionally conducted replacement reserve study which is reevaluated regularly.

Property Taxes

Property taxes are assessed on each unit. Bills go directly to the homeowner and include a prorated portion of the taxes on the common house and the 7 acres of land. Taxes on a 670-square-foot unit are projected to be about $4,360 per year, on a 950-square-foot home they are projected to be around $5,589 per year.


The green building features built into these units make the up-front costs a little higher but it pays off when it comes to monthly utility bills. Utility costs have come in at about half of what the modeling predicted. Utility bills run an average of $25-$50 per month, the larger homes a bit more. The addition of optional solar panels brings electricity costs down to close to net zero. Water-saving fixtures result in a water bill that often does not exceed the base charge of about $19 a month.


Prairie Hill is a part of a condominium regime. The homeowners association carries the insurance on the exterior of homes. Each unit owner is assessed a portion of the bill prorated by home size which comes due in November. That assessment varies from $120-$600 per year depending on home size. A standard condominium policy, taken out by owners covers the interior of the home and possessions.  The policy runs around $250 per year depending on unit size, the value of possessions, deductible chosen, etc.

Are my pets welcome?  What kind of restrictions are placed on ownership of pets? 

Pets are welcome. The Prairie Hill Homeowners Association regulations limit the number of domestic pets to three and prohibits breeding operations within the community. Owners must clean up after their pets. Aggressive pets are not allowed. We do ask that all the requirements of the City of Iowa City be observed including leash laws, vaccination procedures and other requirements.

How are decisions made at Prairie Hill? 

We use a governance system called Sociocracy ( to make decisions by consent. This is a variation of consensus that ensures all voices are heard. We offer training and practice groups which are open to all.

How do members know what's going on at Prairie Hill?

There is a robust internal website that holds calendars, meeting minutes, guest room reservations, vacation schedules, birthdays and more. It's easy to get a birds-eye view of all that's happening.

How are conflicts dealt with at Prairie Hill? 

Here at Prairie Hill we strive to maintain caring and compassionate communications with each other. At the same time, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t sometimes experience conflicts. We use principles of direct address, Crucial Conversations (, and Nonviolent Communication ( to help us learn and practice communications skills that contribute to healthy relationships.

Can I have a garden?

Of course! Homeowners can plant small gardens in the area around their home. In addition, everyone is invited to have a personal garden plot inside the large fenced garden at the top of our hill. It's also possible to “adopt” a plot of ground elsewhere on the site. At the height of the season you will see pocket gardens full of flowers and kale and zucchini and more. We try to be good stewards of the land and use our space in creative ways.