Re: Professional Development vs. Self-Development
From: Rick Mockler (
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:40:08 -0700 (PDT)
I can offer a perspective on the self-development question, as a
professional cohousing developer, because we are regularly approached by
early stage groups and we have to decide whether to work with them.  


Our firm limits ourselves to projects in California.  Unfortunately, in
many areas of the country, a professional cohousing developer is not
available, and so if a group is to hire a professional, the firm might
not know anything about cohousing, and so there will likely be
challenges around effective group involvement, the need to adapt
financial and legal instruments to cohousing, etc.  There is still a
value to hiring the professional, but this is something to consider.    


Our firm also turns away prospective cohousing groups include projects
that are too small and which don't appear to be economically viable, and
we turn away groups when we don't have the staffing capacity to accept
additional projects.  In short, we turn away more cohousing groups than
we accept.  


I have visited many completed communities, and I love to ask "if you had
to do it over again, would you do it the same way?"  There a many tales
of woe from groups that have self-developed.  The stories usually fall
into one of two categories:


1.       "If Only We Had Known X,Y,Z"  --   A major responsibility of a
professional developer is to anticipate everything that can possibly go
wrong, and to confront those issues as early as possible.  Because
cohousers tend to be smart and educated, they often assume that they can
figure things out for themselves.  That is true, but the learn curve
comes with a substantial cost.  


2.       Internal Conflict --  Often the person whom the group
designates as their project manager feels under-appreciated, sometimes
to the point where they actually quit and leave the community.
Sometimes the group gets bogged down with a decision that would
ordinarily be delegated out to a professional developer.  Furthermore,
there are always frustrations and disappointments, and a professional
developer can serve as a valuable scapegoat (it is a lot less stressful
to get mad at the professional, since you won't have to live with us
after the project is completed).


A couple pieces of advice, regarding self-development:


1.    The reason to do it should NOT be to save money, because you
won't.  Some folks, however, just like doing things themselves.  If you
are a "do it yourselfer" that is great, but just understand that you
will be paying dearly for your hands on education, in terms of cost and
time (and remember, in development, time is money).


2.        Not all developers are the same.  Look for someone with shared
values and who is willing to share risk with you.  You want their
compensation tied to the success of your project.


Good luck!


Rick Mockler

CoHousing Partners

Davis & Nevada City, CA <> 








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