The Developer Role
From: Mike Malone (
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 1997 09:15:35 -0500
We at Monterey Cohousing (Mpls, MN) acted as our own developers. I 
don't recommned it unless: 1.) You have several members with 
experience as a contractor and/or business start-ups. 2.) These 
members currently have little else to do. 3.) You hve lots of extra 
money. 4.) No one in your group cares if it takes five years to 
complete construction. 
We had none of the above. A few members did 
not work outside the home and lived in the building on the site. 
These individuals, due to circumstances, carried an enormous load. We 
did have a couple of members that had experience in business 
start-ups. Unfortunately, folks who are good at business start-ups 
are often not skilled or interested in group process (they are 
wheelers and dealers). My wife, one of those in the group with 
extensive business experience, spent a lot of time cohousing and 
consequently neglected some of her job responsibilities and her work 
life has been very unpleasant for the last 3 years.
I don't think we ever properly acknoweledged the people who were the 
heavy lifters. Our group was small, so most of us had to carry 
substantial loads.
We spent so much time and enrgy on developer tasks that we did not 
spend much on design issues. As a result, our design is probably less 
than optimum. I know many of us wish we had spent some more time on 
design. Remember that time is a finite resource.
The worst consequence of not having a developer was the financial 
risk. We spent way more money than we thought we would. Some of this 
was due to inexperience, some of it was due to making rushed 
decisions (if you do a full time job on part-time basis every 
decision is rushed), and some was due to burn-out. Additional 
assessments are still being made to cover unexpected expenses. A few 
households can tolerate this, but most are feeling strapped.
It will take strong safe guards to protect against the dangers 
handling the developer taskes. Good Luck!

Michael Malone
Cancer Control Section
Minnesota Department of Health
Internet address:  michael.malone [at]
Phone: (612)623-5670
Fax: (612)623-5520

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