Re: cost estimates
From: Lynn Nadeau / Maraiah (welcomeolympus.net)
Date: Sun, 14 Feb 2010 12:59:46 -0800 (PST)

As I've read many posts to this list, I've learned more about how the
price of a cohousing home or community can quickly spiral beyond the
financial limits of some members
On 2/14/2010 12:11 PM, Cindy T wrote:

I'm wondering if a community where each person was responsible for building their own house, with some construction guidelines established, would be able to avoid this problem? Maybe communities with experience doing this successfully could share their experiences?

Cindy

RoseWind Cohousing here, Port Townsend WA. Ditto to a lot of what Rob Sandelin said about Sharingwood. We too de-coupled the homes from the community buildings, financially. Of course individual home owners then had to deal with inflation issues, code changes and all that.

As for the community expenses, like the common house, and infrastructure installations, stuff definitely ends up costing more, or getting less for your money, and taking longer, than one wishes or plans. A hefty contingency line item is a must. We made the mistake of having too tight a development budget. We had to make cuts and adjustments because, for instance, a) Our last lots didn't sell for a while and we had to keep paying property taxes on the unsold lots b) This also meant a delay in having the funds to build the common house, which then cost more due to inflation c) An unexpected legal expense knocked another $6000 off our common house fund.

Nothing spiraled out of our reach entirely, but we all ended up trimming our wish lists. We minimized rising professional costs by doing a lot ourselves, though it took longer. For example, on our common house we had a job- boss, sort of a de facto contractor, but financially we were our own general contractor. We used maybe 50 hours of paid-architect time all told. We of course used professional subs for electrical, plumbing and the like, but we did lots of volunteer work on site every day, used a lot of volunteer labor on stucco, interior plaster work, tile work, painting and finishing woodwork, building a kitchen island, front hall benches, and lots more. We even had volunteers who made hot food and beverages twice a day for all workers! (Ideally one should build a common house before the houses. We would have if we had had the money. But at least many of us were living on site while the common house was being built, making it easy to pitch in and volunteer.)

For the planning process, with all the work of getting a Planned Unit Development proposal through the City, to redesign 9 acres of previously-platted land, we did most of it ourselves, except required surveying and engineering. Those of us in that phase learned more than we ever thought we'd need to know about city planning....

And still it cost more and took longer than we had hoped.

Maraiah Lynn Nadeau
www.rosewind.org
Where the land is bright green, budding and starting to flower, we can go out in a light jacket, and we know it won't snow!
Two resales available.

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