Re: House Location Selection
From: Nancy E Wight (
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 94 22:51 CDT
Maria Gassner asked:

> My interest was piqued by Nancy Wight's reference to how those at New
> View learned about what works in house location selection (the hard way)
> Could you elaborate on that?

I know I have already posted some of what follows.  I apologize for any 
repetition, but I do so to answer Maria's question.

To make a long story a little less long, we had to go through site 
selection two times.  Once when we thought we were going to be 29 
households, and once after we redesigned the site plan after learning we 
could only be 24.

First of all, we decided a long time ago that people with the most 
seniority would have first choice in house location selection.  But when we 
actually had to implement this, we felt we should use seniority only as a 
last resort in resolving a conflict.

The first time (aka how *not* to do it), we decided to hire an outside 
consultant, one who worked closely with our architect, to be the 
"matchmaker".  We felt this would be fairer than using someone in the 
group.  We all filled out questionnaires about our preferences and gave 
them to the matchmaker.  He then proceeded, confidentially, to match people 
to houses, based on their criteria.  When there was a conflict, he would 
call up the parties involved and consult with the architect to see if there 
was anything that could be done to resolve it.  Otherwise, he would invoke 

What happened was, when there was a conflict, no one found out about it 
until after the process was over.  Some people felt that maybe they could 
have helped resolve the conflict, if only they *knew* about it.  There was 
a tendency for those involved in the conflict not to budge, because they 
had no evidence that anyone else was.  Also, the matchmaker made some 
controversial decisions that made some people feel like they were treated 
unfairly.  In hindsight, it was too complicated of a process to just hand 
it over to someone outside of the group.  

The second time, we took the advice of some of the good folks on this list, 
as well as our architect, and decided to make the whole process open.  We 
had one, five hour meeting at which we had a huge site plan on the wall 
with household names on sticky notes.  We resolved conflicts mostly as a 

It was interesting that people kind of figured out what site locations they 
could get based on their seniority and the preferences of those with 
greater seniority.  They tended to only choose the locations they thought 
they could get.

The second time around worked much better, because we all witnessed the 
conflicts and the attempted solutions.  We all had input.  The power of the 
group was there. As far as I know, everyone except one household was happy 
with the site they got.

What I learned from this was: 

1) Seniority was used more than I expected, even though most of the time it 
wasn't explicit.

2) It's much better to keep things out in the open.

3) The group as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Good Luck!

- Nancy

Nancy Wight                                   wight [at]
New View Neighborhood Development             Acton, MA

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