Professional Development vs. Self-Development
From: Joani Blank (
Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 18:41:33 -0700 (PDT)

I'm posting this for a forming group that is considering self-development of their community, hiring an experience construction project manager instead of working with a developer. They have a site optioned, and have started the permitting process. Some people in the group feel that a developer will cost too much and will result in significantly higher unit prices. Others feel that they really need an experienced developer to tie up construction financing, continue managing the permitting work, actively managing project costs, etc.

The "common wisdom" in our movement, has been (it seems to me) that every group that has tried to go it alone like this, has wished, in retrospect that they'd chosen to work with a developer instead. I've also heard that self-developed groups have found that whatever it cost the project to work with a developer, in almost all cases the developer saved the project more money than he, she or they cost.

When this group asked me for names of self-developed groups so they could confirm (or reject) this common wisdom, I was at a loss to name more than a couple such groups. It also occurred to me that it would be a good idea to generalize this question in a broader forum.

So let me pose the question broadly: In your experience, what are the advantages and disadvantages of co-developing with an experienced developer (who would of, course, be hiring a construction or project manager), in contrast to self-development, where the group finds and hires the construction or project manager themselves.

Joani Blank
Swan's Market Cohousing
Oakland, CA

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