Re: compensation for founders' hard work
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2004 22:07:24 -0800 (PST)
At RoseWind, a bunch of us early folks had already put in years of work 
and money (credited to our eventual buy-in) at the point when our site 
plan became a legal reality (as a Planned Unit Development, redesigning 
previously-platted land) and we actually had official "lots" to sell. At 
that point we needed to set the prices of the lots. 

Short answer - we gave a discount on buy-in for members who'd put in 
years of work. Details follow.

We wanted to work out a price list that 

a) reflected the objective difference in value of each lot as real 
estate, given various locations, elevation, view, some size variation, 
b) included a "pioneer discount" on that price, of a thousand dollars per 
year of work already put in, for those members already in for a year or 
c) added up to the total we thought we'd need for development (land, 
infrastructure, common house)

Can you imagine? This was the one meeting we hired an outside facilitator 
for (and paid him cash out of our individual wallets on the spot). All 
sorts of stuff emerged as people had to create a price for a lot they'd 
already identified (for years) as theirs. We worked it out. 

The pioneer discount too came onto a snag - one couple wanted theirs 
doubled, as they'd each worked on the project, but other couples did not 
want extra, and a single mom like me squawked that I'd had to put in a 
lot of extra work because I didn't have a spouse to take care of home and 
kids while I went to meetings. We gave the squawkers just a little extra.

We had never promised anybody any perks for early joining, and it was a 
token amount, relative to the actual hours worked (we self developed, 
doing nearly everything ourselves). Still it saved me $5000 on my buy in. 
Those discounts were compensated for by the resultant slight rise in the 
remaining buy in costs, for those who came later. (There were no further 
discounts, just "list price" for the lots that were sold later.)

On one occasion, we officially borrowed money at interest from a member, 
to get us out of a bind. Mostly we just paid for stuff out of pocket and 
kept track of how much equity we'd put in thus. All early members had an 
initial $10K payment in, but some of us had put out twice that before we 
had a deed to anything. 

A word about the total estimate. I'd advise new groups to put some slack 
into your development budget, to allow for inflation, unforeseen 
expenses, and the fact that there will be some last lot or unit that 
doesn't sell for a while. We estimated correctly on our land and 
infrastructure costs, but the cost of Common House construction went up, 
and we also had to pay property tax on unsold lots for some years till it 
was all sold. 

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend Washington (Victorian seaport, music, art, nature) (very active peace movement here- see our 

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