Re: Seeking Examples of Cohousing Implementation Plans
From: Katie Henry (
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2018 13:40:22 -0800 (PST)
This is a huge question, as others have mentioned. It might help to break it 
down into smaller chunks. 

You might consider hiring a cohousing consultant to assist with the community 
development aspect. They'll help you define goals and timelines. Doing it 
yourself is hard. There's a lot of wisdom out there, and it's worth paying for. 
You didn't try to do the architecture by yourselves, did you? :-)

Here are some quick, random thoughts on my area of expertise, large 
multi-family building management.

The Community Associations Institute is a good resource for legal and financial 
guidance. They have state and local chapters. 

Katie Henry


Will you hire a management company or self-manage?

Either way, there are maintenance contracts that need to be in place at 
move-in. Find out from your project manager who is installing this equipment, 
and call the company.

1. An elevator maintenance contract, plus the service that monitors the 
emergency phone, plus a company or a community member to coordinate the regular 
inspections (or however it's handled in your jurisdiction). 

2. Do you have a central fire alarm/sprinkler system? There will be a service 
contract, plus more phone lines for the monitoring service, plus inspection 

3. Any other contracts -- cleaning, landscaping, trash hauling, HVAC, 
extermination, snow plowing, laundry equipment, building access (key fobs/card 
readers, etc.), cable/internet?

4. Not required, but I encourage you to attend fire inspections during 
construction and get to know your fire marshal. You can learn a lot. The 
correct answer to anything he says is "Yes, sir. Right away." After you move 
in, have a shift of your local firehouse over for dinner. 


Find someone to conduct a reserve study and figure out what your reserve 
contributions should be. The sooner the better.

Line up condo insurance.

Add up your contract expenses, the reserve contributions, and your insurance 
cost to start planning your operating budget. Add utility costs after you move 
in. Assume that your HOA dues will go up after move-in.

How HOA dues are calculated is always a contentious subject. By household? By 
unit size? By number of occupants? A mix? 

Will your HOA dues have a community benefit component? (Money collected to pay 
for things other than the usual building and legal expenses, such as social 
activities or training.) For what and how much? Calculated by household or ...? 


How are you going to handle financial matters? (Collecting dues, paying bills, 
managing cash, etc.) Management company, CPA, or yourselves?

A big issue that you should grapple with now -- how will you reimburse 
community members for expenses? Please err on the side of trust. Don't make it 
too hard for members to get things done.


How are you going to handle legal matters? A lawyer or a management company? 
Who is creating your condo docs? 


How will your board be set up? The basic requirements (number of members, etc.) 
are probably defined in your condo docs.

What will the board's duties be? Entirely focused on traditional board matters 
(legal, financial, and building)? Or also involved in community affairs?

How will you select board members? This can be a BIG issue.

What characteristics do you want in board members? Warm, fuzzy people who are 
good at dealing with conflict? Or people who can take on tasks and get things 

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