RE: The Developer Role
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 1997 08:18:10 -0500
Sharingwood's phase 2 used the amatuer in their spare time method.  I do not 
reccomend it at all. There have been a steady stream of glitches and slightly 
longer than forever to get even a simple project done.  The four biggest 
problems with the amatuers in their space time method are:

1. Amatuers often don't know what's important, what the process is, how to be 
effective. They bumble around a lot because they have no experence or knowlege 
of what to do in what sequence.

2. Things get done when the amatuers can find the time, which means they often 
don't get done very quickly. So a glitch comes up on Friday and takes three 
weeks to deal with, whereas a pro deals with it the following Monday because 
that's their full time job.

3. Amatuers often do incorrect, and even shoddy work that has to be redone or 
causes problems later. This is not because they are shoddy people, they just 
don't know what's typical or what's the correct (accepted) way.

4. Amatuers burn out, leaving even less people to do the tasks. So it takes 
even longer.

I do not reccomend this process unless you have unlimited time and money. Its 
actually way cheaper to hire a pro who knows what they are doing, especially 
if you are in an appreciated market. Going two years over reasonable expected 
timeline costs every homeowner because the materials and building costs are 
more expensive later than sooner in an appreciating market. Becuase of the 
huge time delays, homes in phase 2 will cost 10% more IF they get built this 
year, than if we had built two years ago. Notice the capitalization of the 
word IF. Our second phase may or may not get started building this year, 
depending on a number of factors, including availability of financing, which 
beleive it or not, nobody has bothered to nail down yet.

Rob Sandelin

From:   cohousing-l [at] on behalf of John Major
Sent:   Friday, June 06, 1997 9:25 PM
Subject:        The Developer Role

Hi, folks -

All of us building our own development had to have a person or a group
of people playing the role of the developer. This role includes dealing
with finances, construction, political problems, people issues and
design. It's quite a hat to wear! We are wondering how other groups have
handled this. Of course, some of you had a real live Developer person
doing that work for you, possibly taking on much of the financial risk,
and getting compensated for it, too. 

On the opposite extreme, some have used a committee of volunteer folks
covering all this ground in their spare time. Presumably, these folks
were at least compensated by ecstatic gratitude from the members that
weren't able to haul that heavy load   -   right?    ;-)

We see the biggest challenges from here out as:

- arranging the financing
- construction oversight
- setting up the financial mechanisms to turn over the houses on

Are we missing something? Please point it out, if so!

So, to the questions:

- Of those that didn't use a professional developer, how many hours
would you estimate did all this take over the post-design/construction
period? (include arranging the financing...)

- How did you compensate this small group of "heavy lifters" for all the
hours they put in?

- Did any of you do everything through the end of design yourself, then
bring in a pro to help get the $$ and building to happen? How did that
work out?

- Did you hit any disasters during this period? How well did you
"amateurs" deal with them?

Thanks for the advice -

John Major
Wasatch Cohousing - where we are sensing the enormity of the task ahead,
and looking around for help on deck!

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