Design-Build & Takoma Village
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 07:31:11 -0700 (MST)
> By the way, your community was a "design-build" cohousing project wasn't
> it? Did the developer take over and handle site aquisition, financing and
> construction after the group finished the schematic designs? If so, I'm
> interested in hearing more about that. We're planning to do that with our
> group.

This question was sent to me privately but I will answer to the list because
I think the answer is interesting. I was quite surprised to see how a
project could be developed without an early (very expensive) architectural
plan or getting enough people together first.

Ann will correct me if I am wrong but at Takoma Village, Ann Zabaldo
contacted a developer early in the game and then surprised him by getting 65
people to an information session. An option was taken on the land and rough
plans developed but nothing final until almost all the units were spoken
for. The land won't be paid for until all the units close.

We are 43 condominium units ranging from one bedroom apartments to 4 bedroom
townhouses. The price range is from below $100,000 to well into the $200,
000 if not the $300,000. (I haven't seen prices since people added options
and custom IKEA kitchens.) The general layout was planned and things moved
around in response to historic association requirements and interested party
needs and wants. At each stage only enough design was completed to fit the
current requirements for zoning, people commitments, etc.

This allowed the project to change in response to interest. For example
several units were switched from two bedroom duplexes to two bedroom flats
because more people wanted flats, than stairs. Some wanted more bathrooms;
others, less. All these changes were made on preliminary drawings--not the
very expensive and detailed drawing required for permits and construction
bids. These were not completed until the very last minute.

The wear and tear on expectations is getting to us a bit as we are now
living on a construction site in which the elevations never quite caught up
with the floor plans and some kitchens are a little strange. We are moving
toward holiday celebrations on a wing and prayer since promises that the
common house will be ready seem optimistic at best.

BUT the whole project was conceived and built in much less than the average
(I think) of 5 years, and without the coming and going and ups and downs of
projects that take 10 years. We are moved in at close to two years from

The other reason to have a developer up front is that the developer has
working relationships with architects and construction companies. Developers
have ready access to information that we would have had to pay dearly to get
and then had to pay for again every time we changed our plans. We are
talking tens of thousands of dollars down the drain every time a contractor
says something the architect designed won't work. Money and months of time.

Get your developer involved first! Cohousing is a dream but it is also a
real estate development. And most of us have no idea how complicated real
estate development or construction is.

Sharon Villines
In Washington, DC where all roads lead to Casablanca
Takoma Village Cohousing

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