Re: RFPs and developers
From: melanie griffin (
Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2007 08:54:04 -0800 (PST)
hi. I've never done an RFP for cohousing but have a lot of experience
writing and evaluating them for state government, and I learned that you
have to be very clear what your priorities are and it is helpful to
communicate those priorities to the bidders by giving each question an
appropriate weight (out of a total of 100 points, ability to build green is
30, eg.) and letting the bidders know what the weights are. The process of
developing the questions, the rating scale for responses and the weights can
bring out lots of assumptions among the group that you should know about but
might not.   Sharon's points are well taken, in that the comfort you feel
with a developer is very important, but you need to let the developer know
up front what you want out of him or her, or the relationship will sour
quickly. The other thing that is critical is that the written responses (the
pages on each question and the total proposal) must be limited in length.
Otherwise you will be buried  in mostly worthless paper.

If you really only have 3 potential developers, you might want to reconsider
using an RFP unless you have to for some other is a better
tool to evaluate lots of bidders. But it is a useful tool to create and
coalesce on priorities among the group that is hiring, and is an objective
way of evaluating disparate proposals. However, it also tends to reward
those who write well, which may not be one of the characteristics you will
most value in a developer-or you might consider having the proposal in
writing with a presentation to follow, or if the responses aren't clear,
asking followup questions that will also get rated. In my state work we
sometimes had bidders' conferences before the formal request went out so we
could answer questions about specific needs, clarify the scope for ourselves
and for the potential providers, and put a face on the agency for the
bidders. Might be worth considering.

Hope this helps. Good luck

On Nov 29, 2007 11:25 AM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]> 

> On Nov 29, 2007, at 11:04 AM, Tom Hammer wrote:
> > We have 3 potential developers interested in partnering with us, and
> > we are considering the RFP model for choosing one.  Below are some
> > thoughts we  have.
> I'm not experienced with RFPs but I personally would not comfortable
> trying to layout everything in advance in a document. Perhaps you have
> already done this step, but I would first make a list of topics and
> questions (like the one you included in the email) that you just
> discuss with the developer.
> Once you talk with each developer you will have a good idea of which
> one you like and feel more comfortable with. Then you can begin
> writing a contract -- in consultation with a lawyer.
> Building a real estate project is a long and complex process and
> things will change daily all down the road. Costs change. Some
> materials will not be available and you will have to switch. When you
> dig the foundations you will find boulders or something. Aside from
> any contractual issues, you will have to feel comfortable that your
> developer is advising you wisely.
> > - Compensation for Sweat Equity Hours.
> Write this in formally to the contract as a budget item. Our developer
> did two wonderful things. First, he hired Ann Zabaldo as the marketing
> person. She initiated and planned all the outreach and helped the
> group form itself. She was paid out of the budget for project.
> Second, and this is down the road for you, he included most of the
> furnishings for the commonhouse in the budget so we started right out
> with tables and chairs; pans, dishes, and cutlery; furniture in the
> living and kids rooms; and a budget for tools in the workshop.
> Thus marketing and furnishings were paid for in our mortgages and not
> scraped together from our condo fees over the next year -- or probably
> over 5 years.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing,Washington DC
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