Re: Design-Build & Takoma Village
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2000 06:30:17 -0700 (MST)
Sharon did a great job of summarizing the TVC process and for showing how a
developer can make your life a LOT easier.  My comments are just some "fine
tunings" about specifics.  My comments between the --'s below.


Ann Zabaldo

Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC. -- America's
----- Original Message -----
From: "Sharon Villines" <sharonvillines [at]>
To: "Multiple recipients of list" <cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: Monday, December 18, 2000 9:09 AM
Subject: Design-Build & Takoma Village

> > By the way, your community was a "design-build" cohousing project wasn't
> > it? Did the developer take over and handle site aquisition, financing
> > 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
> > group.
> 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
> people to an information session. An option was taken on the land and
> 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.

-- The developer, Don Tucker, had been interested in cohousing since 1992.
He found our current site and asked me to work w/ him to develop a cohousing
community on at least part of the site.  He already had the site under
contract when he called. me.   Of course, how things turned out the coho
community took the WHOLE site which is great 'cause the whole thing is only
1.43 acres!! --

> 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.

--  For the most part this is correct altho' we DID have some last minute
changes to the final drawings and it was VERY expensive.  I would cut off
changes a whole lot earlier than we did. --

> 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
> 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.

--  I actually have  a question here --  I'd be interested in hearing other
folks's move in stories.  Right now we have a LOT of things tiny and big
that need attention from light face plates to plumbing.  It feels like a
never ending list of "fix its"  What have others experienced at move in?
How "perfectly" finished was your community?  I heard that some folks in
Nyland were w/out phone service for FOUR months after move in.  --

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

--  Just counting the actual time the group was involved in the process I
think the timeline will be 27  months (if we "finish" at the end of January
2001.)  If you count the acquisition time that Don put in before the group
formed then you have to add another year.  --

> > 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.

--  Can I bronze this?  Put it in neon?  Until you've been through this
process you can't know HOW complicated it is.  I highly recommend folks
considering cohousing read Tracy Kidder's book  "House."  It details the
building of a custom home.  The interplay among the architect, the builder,
the subs, the future owners is fascinating.  It will give you a feel for
about 5% of what it's like building a multi family community.  Just times
the experience in the book by about 1,000 and you can see how complex a
process this is.

I also recommend playing The Timeline Game which I believe you can get from
The Cohousing Network at their on line store   You'll need
someone familiar w/ the design/build process to help you w/ this.

Also join TCN!!  A great resource!

And my last piece of unsolicited advice  is that when choosing a developer
or other professional make sure he/she has MULTI FAMILY building experience.
Single family doesn't cut it.  The rules for multi family are VASTLY

There are now LOTS of people in the cohousing movement who are professionals
w/ LOTS of experience:  The Cohousing Company, Cohousing Resources (Chris
Hanson), Heartbeat Cities, Mary Kraus, and a whole professional listserv of
folks who can help you including moi.  A cohousing professional can save you
tons of money in the end.  Headaches too.  Email me if you want more info.
on how to contact these folks.  --

--  Ok.  I'm done.   I get on a roll...

Thanks again Sharon for summarzing so well our experience here at TVC.  --

Ann Z.
piggybacking on Sharon Villines's email response!

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