Re: management services vs self-management at the building stage
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Thu, 7 May 2015 07:12:37 -0700 (PDT)
In terms of finding professionals who can help groups with developing 
cohousing, keep in the mind the three rules:  Location, location, and location. 
 Which in this instance means, LOCAL expertise.  Local experts one may need 

     Realtor(s):  Somebody with good working knowledge of the regional terrain 
and zoning, to help find and secure a suitable piece of land.
     Real Estate Attorney:  Somebody knowledgeable of the regulatory context 
and the authorities having jurisdiction, capable of assisting with securing 
local permits and approvals.
     Land Surveyor and/or Licensed Environmental Specialist:  Engineers who can 
prepare certified plans and qualifying conservation or remediation programs, as 
may be needed to secure permits.
     Construction Contractors:  There is a market for international contractors 
working around the world, but it’s not the coho market.  The cohousing project 
will be built most efficiently and economically by somebody whose offices are 
not too far from the construction site.  Maybe there is a wonderful builder in 
California who has built three successful cohousing communities, but it 
probably won’t make sense to hire him/her for a project in Montana.
     Finance:  For land acquisition; for construction; and for take-out (end 
sale mortgage).  Might be three different sources.  In any event, a key 
principle of good banking practice is LOCAL, where the person making the 
lending decision can meet the people s/he’s lending to, and see the land 
furnished as collateral.

If one’s project talent is not local, then expect to pay more for the costs of 
overcoming distance.  Even so, these higher costs may be warranted if they 
provide access to parties deeply experienced in the singularities of cohousing. 
 These might include:

     Marketing Consultant:  Somebody who knows how to reach and attract 
investors and buyers, especially in markets where cohousing is unfamiliar — and 
thus help expand the core group (which is usually significantly smaller than 
the number of dwelling units it hopes to build).
     Project Manager and/or Financial Planner:  Somebody conversant with the 
“big picture” of real estate, who can work out schedules and budgets intended 
to guide and coordinate the actions of all.  A cohousing project schedule and 
budget doesn’t readily fit the “templates” for residential development pro 
formas, so this requires either prior experience, or ingenuity.
     Architect:  Good architects can learn their way into a novel building 
program, and do this all the time.  However, experience with particular 
building type is always an important advantage, and there are clearly a 
increasing number of specialist designers from which to choose.  (Note, 
however, this does not apply to all the design consultants: There is no reason 
why the structural engineer needs to know anything at all about cohousing.)

As somebody who has worked his entire career as a consultant, I can report that 
my willingness to engage with any particular client has always been influenced 
a combination of project attractiveness, distance, client credibility (which 
does NOT directly correlate to group size or financial resources), and fee 

R Philip Dowds (Cornerstone Cohousing)
175 Harvey Street, Unit 5
Cambridge, MA 02140

land:     617.354.6094
mobile: 617.460.4549
email:   rpdowds [at] <mailto:rpdowds [at]>

> On May 7, 2015, at 8:58 AM, Fred H Olson <fholson [at]> wrote:
> Unlike 20 years ago when this list started there are now cohousing
> professionals to do / help with various parts of developing a cohousing
> community in some locations.
> Is there a document listing cohousing professionals, WITH what aspects of
> the process they do sort of like what Sharon wrote above but covering
> many pros?
> Other things that would be useful in such a document are:
> 1) an outline of the aspects of formation/development coordinated wtih the
>   listing proposed above.
> 2) examples of how multiple pros could be engaged to complete a development
> 3) the geographic areas various pros are willing to work
> 4) minimum core group size / minimum group wherewithal / minimum stage of
>   formation that pros are willing to work with
> Note that 3 & 4 might be interrelated - willingness to work further from
> home base with a more solid group.
> In my opinion the big challenge that I am not aware of pros to help
> with is the very early stage of finding interested/committed/motivated
> people to form a core group.  And then there is the challenge of
> finding those people willing to move on forming a cohousing community
> at the same time.  There seems to be interest in being a part of
> cohousing but not right now...
> Fred

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