Re: management services vs self-management at the building stage
From: Jerry McIntire (
Date: Fri, 8 May 2015 16:35:46 -0700 (PDT)
Thanks for a great list and commentary!


Jerry McIntire
Stone's Throw Ecovillage, in the heart of Wisconsin's beautiful Driftless

On Thu, May 7, 2015 at 9:12 AM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]> wrote:

> 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 include:
>      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 appropriateness.
> 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]>

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