Spreadsheet to compare financial capacity with prospective sites
From: Fillard Rhyne (fillardhevanet.com)
Date: Sat, 14 Oct 2006 23:05:36 -0700 (PDT)
Once each household in a prospective cohousing community has figured out how 
much it can spend on cohousing, how does the group go about comparing its 
financial capacity to prospective sites?

I'm working on a spreadsheet that attempts to answer this question. What I'm 
really trying to create is a tool that will enable _any_ community member, 
armed with a few key pieces of distilled financial information about each 
household, to independently evaluate a site and their ideas about how it could 
be used. And -- this is important -- to try out a ton of different _variants_ 
to their ideas about how the site could be used and see how much more/less 
affordable those variants are.

(Of course such an evaluation would be extremely rough -- I've been hearing 
about how difficult it is to predict costs! -- but even a rough guess is better 
than having no clue at all. When I want to play around with the financial 
implications of using a site in ten different ways, I don't want to pay an 
expert to evaluate every single one of them; and even if there's an expert 
who's willing to do it for free, that would be using up valuable goodwill that 
my community will need later for the _real_ work. I've got to be able to do 
this myself. Then if things look good I can share my ideas with the community, 
and if _they_ like it we can hire someone to do a "real" evaluation.)

For those who want a look, the draft spreadsheet is at 
<http://www.hevanet.com/fillard/cohousing/finance/>, in both Excel (.xls) and 
AppleWorks (.cwk) formats. I'd be grateful if people could help me with the 
following questions:

+  Is there an existing resource that makes my spreadsheet completely redundant?

+  Is there an existing resource that I can use as a model in my own efforts?

+  Because I don't know much about how cohousing finances work, the current 
draft of the spreadsheet is very simplistic and omits all sorts of important 
stuff. How do I go about filling in the gaps? I already have copies of the 
ScottHanson book and a binder from a McCamant & Durrett "Getting It Built" 
workshop I attended. Are there other books or web sites that speak directly to 
what I'm talking about here -- in detail, but also in a way that's 
comprehensible to a layperson?

+  Probably I should sit down with one or more people here in the Portland area 
who have actually been through all this. Is there any particular _kind_ of 
person I should ask to do this with me? E.g. someone with a particular job 

+  Anybody out there want to take a crack at helping me work directly on the 
spreadsheet itself? :-)

Thanks very much!

503-777-MATH (6284)

"How silent the woods would be if only the best birds sang."
- Dale Turner

P.S. Note that I'm "copylefting" the spreadsheet, which means anyone who wants 
to copy, distribute, and/or modify it can do so as long as they preserve the 
copyleft. In other words, feel free to use it for your community -- once it's 
halfway decent, that is!

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