Re: Property Managers In Cohousing
From: John Carver (jcarverislandnet.com)
Date: Sat, 15 Dec 2012 13:03:31 -0800 (PST)
When Pacific Gardens cohousing community moved into our new building, this was quite a discussion, ranging from some wanting cohousers to do it all as community to some not trusting any members to manage such a task, foreseeing the deterioration of the property and chaos. We opted to try to manage as much as we could for now, but hired a consultant to help us get started with what we needed to know and to set up the first budget.

After three years we are still doing the work ourselves, but get help and advice where needed and as much as we can. We've hired consultants a few times, but get most of our advice from the condo owners' association we belong to, called Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association (VISOA <http://www.visoa.bc.ca/>).

Members of VISOA are owners of condominiums (called 'strata properties' here) in the region. Many of these are self-managed and the members have a wealth of experience to share. Just last weekend I attended an excellent workshop on reserve fund planning given by the association.

So for the problems:
1. Yes, it takes time. Not just decisions, but learning what you need to know to make those decisions responsibly. 2. We do sometimes overlook things, like maintenance tasks. It's all about learning to take care of a large and complex building. 3. Not equally shared. Most of the work is being done by a small group of people. But I suppose that's true of any volunteer organization.

The advantages:
1. We get to choose how we want to run things.
2. For better or worse, we share the responsibility.

So far the only job that members are being paid for is janitorial. When we realized that we could not keep up with the regular cleaning (it's not a popular community job) we looked into hiring a company to come in weekly. But then we decided to give the job to people living here who needed paid work. Other work we can't handle is done by outside contractors.

In conclusion I would say it's rewarding and good community building to do it yourself, but it is work. And you do need to seek out advice and direction from other building and condo owners, associations and professionals.

John Carver
Pacific Gardens Cohousing
Nanaimo, BC
http://pacificgardens.ca/


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