Re: Development budget (broad strokes)
From: Chris ScottHanson (
Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2015 10:16:53 -0800 (PST)
Peter, and Sharon,

I rarely disagree with Sharon but I do here.

I have found that banks are not a good source of referrals to local development 
professionals.  It's very hard to find the right person at the bank. No one 
wants to refer you up the food chain because they all want credit for a new 
client.  They are inclined to sell you their loan product and in doing so they 
are only inclined to tell you what they think you want to hear. In other words 
they often don't tell you the whole truth as you might see the truth.

When I parachute into a new location doing land search work, which I have done 
all over North America, I start with a local lumberyard.  Why a lumberyard?  
Objectivity.   I ask to speak to the accounts receivable person. Then I ask the 
A-R person if they can recommend a couple of really good contractors, their 
best clients, contractors who buy a lot and pay on time. Contractors who 
survived the recession.  They are very happy to share these referrals to their 
best customers because it helps their business long-term.  I do this with at 
least two lumberyards.

Then I call the contractors on the shortlist and ask for their referrals to 
local housing developers who have been successful, and have been in business 
for a long time.  While I'm at it, I also ask if they could recommend any 
architects, especially old-time architects who may have just retired.  I find 
old time architects are the most honest and candid of the development industry 
professionals, the most willing to tell it like it is, and the most willing to 
tell stories about who is good, who is marginal and who avoid.  

Always when doing this kind of research I look for overlap, referrals to the 
same person or same organization from more than one source. It's amazing what 
you can figure out over the phone in a matter of a few hours.  Of course it 
does help that I can speak their language after 39 years in the multi-family 
housing industry.

Boston and north, you might try:
Patti Lautner or Stew Mayer, (508) 962-4721
 Partners at, Communitas Development <> 
Bill Glasser (781) 376-1801  (multifamily contractor who built JP Cohousing)
Tim McHale (617) 797-1129 (very experienced clerk of the works)

If I can be of help let me know.

Chris ScottHanson
Urban Cohousing Associates, Inc. <>
Land Acquisition, Development Consulting & Project Management
Ecovillages, Cohousing & Sustainable Communities

Fifth Street Commons <>
PO Box 1288
Langley, WA  98260 

(206) 601-7802 cell

Author of:  The Cohousing Handbook - BUILDING A PLACE FOR COMMUNITY
Available from new, used and as an eBook.

> On Feb 5, 2015, at 9:28 AM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]> 
> wrote:
>> On Feb 5, 2015, at 11:50 AM, Peter Goldstein <peterhansgoldstein [at] 
>>> wrote:
>> For purposes of member assessments, and communication with the governments
>> of our target towns, we'll need a little more detail on project budget. But
>> a truly detailed budget (which would depend on plenty of unknowable
>> variables) would be a developer project, and we're far from decided on what
>> developer we'll work with.
> There are several budgets in a publication put together by the Mid Atlantic 
> Cohousing association, The Developer's Guide to Cohousing.
> Contact Ann Zabaldo at zabaldo [at]
> On developers and budgets, advise from Gilda Iriarti who worked with 
> cohousing on budgets for many years your best source for a developer is to 
> talk to banks -- the person in charge of construction loans. They know who is 
> trustworthy, and who will bring the project in on time and within the budget.
> As with all discussions with banks -- you are asking them to finance a condo 
> -- not a weird place where people have to cook. Just discuss construction and 
> land unless they seem interested in cohousing. Don't try to sell something 
> they are unfamiliar with.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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