house location selection
From: School of Mathematics, U of MN (
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 94 12:26 CDT
RE:  house location selection.

Nancy of New View wondered how others do it.  From her write-up I assume 
that they have a big piece of land and everybody builds and moves 
in at the same time.  Monterey CoHousing in Minneapolis is quite 
different.  We have an existing old mansion on about 2.5 acres.  Eight 
households were able to move into the mansion immediately after the 
purchase.  We hope to build about 15 townhouses on the portion of the land 
that is buildable.  

So, in our case there are really two different kinds of location 
selection.  The first one was the selection of the units in the house and 
the second one of the townhouses to be built.  Judy Baxter is part of the 
group that moved into the house and she may want to tell her own story, but 
basically is was people working out their needs and preferences based on 
what kinds of units were available by negotiating with each other.  Luckily 
the needs were very diverse and so was the type of units available.  There 
was not great contest for a specific unit, as I recall.  Also, there was a 
good deal of willingness to work things out.  

Now we are in the process of unit selection for the townhouses.  Sunday we 
had our first selection go-around for the current (revised) site plan and 
here is how we did it:

1.  On a site plan we put stickers with our names for our first, second and 
third preference (if we had that many) of location.  You should know 
that units come essentially in three sizes (large, medium and small) and 3 
locations, with the large units grouped in one location and the mid-size 
and smaller ones in two, one being more quiet than the other.  So if you 
like a small unit in a quiet location you would have only one choice, 
essentially.  The other groupings were mid-size units facing the woods and 
the smaller ones facing the central area which is mostly playground for 
children.  So if you don't have much money and/or want a smaller unit and 
don't mind the noise of children playing, the competition is between 4 
units, one of which is an end unit exposed on three sides (light and airy, 
but with our Minnesota winters, heating expenses could be higher).  

The prime locations facing the woods are of course the popular ones.  We 
plan to resolve these conflicts using our seniority system.  Founding 
members, those that put the most time and effort into locating the site, 
putting down the (substantial) downpayment, and doing all the work to 
getting the group up and running, they get first choice in cases where 
more than one household wants a specific unit.  Second choice goes to those 
members who joined later, all in order of the date they became full 
members.  Associate members, those who are still thinking about it, can 
also put down their choices (as an incentive) but anybody who becomes a 
member first has first choice.

So far, as best I can tell, there are no contested units and all full 
members may get their first choice.  Households can, of course, work 
things out among themselves and switch units.  Sometimes we are not too 
happy about not having all units sold, but in this situation, it has turned 
into an advantage.  Another advantage is that we have many types of units 
to suit the many types of needs of our members.

Monika Stumpf, Monterey CoHousing-Minneapolis, dept [at]

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