Re: Affordable Cohousing
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2012 12:16:49 -0800 (PST)
The three big costs (apart from land) of any design and construction project 
are ...

  (1) The design team (architects and engineers).  Custom residence designers 
will want a fee = about 10% of the construction cost.  But you can find other 
teams that will "do it" for 5% (and, infer that the 10% guy is ripping you off).
  (2) Materials and systems selected.  A slate roof will cost more than a 
standing seam roof, and a metal roof will cost more than an asphalt shingle 
roof.  For any system or product you can find economy (the $140 toilet) and 
deluxe (the $840 toilet); for most of us, the best choice is usually somewhere 
in between.
  (3) The contractor and subcontractors that put it all together.  If you get 
five competitive bids based on decent drawings and specs (available from the 
10% guy, but not the 5%), you may still see a range of plus or minus 20% -- or 
worse.  Two factors that drive the bid down, even from qualified bidders, are 
(1) failure to understand the full implications of the drawing set, and (2) 
utter desperation to fill a hole in the schedule.  In the end, miscalculation 
and desperation will not work to your benefit.  I tell my clients to throw out 
the low bidder and the high bidder, and interview the remainder.  (Sometimes 
they listen ...)

So:  What happens you shop hard, and find the cheapest designers, cheapest 
toilets, and cheapest contractors available?  Same thing that happens when you 
book the cheapest hotel. Or buy the cheapest shoes or the cheapest lawnmower or 
the cheapest Balsamic vinegar. 

This is my long-winded way of saying I don't really believe that the design and 
construction industry features only bums and bozos who must be monitored every 
minute of the day.  Nor that, reno or new, you can't get a quality product.  
You CAN get a quality product.  Just not at a rock-bottom price.


Sent from my iPad

On Dec 31, 2012, at 2:22 PM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]> 

> On Dec 31, 2012, at 2:03 PM, "R.N. Johnson" <cohoranda [at]> wrote:
>> You don't get the shiny new home with the neat features, but you do get to 
>> live in community.

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