RE: size and management companies
From: Rowenahc (
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 10:44:15 -0700 (MST)
Cambridge Cohousing has 41 units, a mixture of town houses and apartments.
Over the last three years we have been working out what we can and cannot do
ourselves and we do not have total consensus on whether it is wise for us to
continue to do our trash and recycling.  However, there are enough people
who feel strongly that once we give up everything to the management company
we are on the slippery slope of becoming "just another condo" - so we keep
doing it ourselves.  I also have a personal theory that having your
neighbors doing the trash chores instead of paid strangers makes you more
aware of the need for sorting and recycling and using the composters for
garbage - something a number of us feel very strongly about. We don't have
dumpsters, we have regular trash cans and the big blue recycling bins on
wheels that the city provides, so they can be moved from the trash
enclosures to the side walks by hand. It takes two or three people maybe
fifteen minutes a week.  If you have big dumpsters I'm not clear what you
want the management company to do since they have to be moved by
professionals?   If people are strewing stuff around you need to face it and
them whether or not you have a management company - it is usually possible
to find something that identifies the culprits.

Bear in mind that when people first move in they produce an excessive amount
of trash for several months!  The only comparable time is Christmas and even
that's not as bad as the first months.

We also do snow/ice removal on the internal pathways, but not on adjoining
sidewalks or in the driveways.  Again, some people ask - can't we just pay
for it, but in reality with the thaw and freeze we've been getting this year
we'd have to have someone here almost full-time to keep on top of it!
Gardening is done by those who care and there is little pressure to get that
work done by others. We do pay to get the floors in the living and dining
rooms in the common house done on a weekly basis - the condition of the
floors was becoming a contentious issue over who spilled what and whose
standards should be met!

One of our incentives is cost - by taking on some of the various tasks that
a managing company might do we are saving in the region of $15,000 a year.
Some of our families are on tight budgets and appreciate not having to pay
out an additional $30 a month and we haven't quite figured out how (or
whether we want) to allow people to "cash out" of doing chores the others
share.  If your community is less cost conscious you may want to get the
less attractive chores done by paid help.  Obviously, your decision will
also depend on how many willing and able worker bees you have and whether
they mind if some people can't or won't participate. Some people actually
enjoy doing this stuff. I suspect every community has a different threshold
for these decisions.

We do have our management company do the bookkeeping.  If you mess up there
the community can get hit with penalties or the utilities being turned off
(it happened!) and, as I mentioned before, no one wants to dun a fellow
community member who is delinquent with payments - much easier to let a
stranger do it and levy the delinquency fees.

 The main point is that management companies are very flexible and you can
negotiate what your community wants them to do assuming, of course, that y0u
can get consensus on that :-)


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