Re: To HIre or Not to Hire a Cohousing Consultant?
From: Lynne MARKELL (
Date: Mon, 22 Apr 2019 11:48:28 -0700 (PDT)
You have been getting good answers and I will add. Your question shows that you 
are floundering and in need a cohousing consultant. As others have said, 
developing cohousing is complex and more than buying land and building a 
In order to buy land you have to be prepared with a legal organization, cash 
raised from the members to pay for expenses, a budget, member commitments, 
pre-approved financing, knowledge of local zoning, etc, basic policies, 
decision-making system, 
Equity members will not put up substantial money unless they know what they are 
getting into, essentially the plan for the cohousing, including what the unit 
prices will be. We found that the closer we got to a specific site and the more 
money we required, the more detail new members required. The founders were 
willing to take more financial risk than later members.
To determine costs  and to build community, you need someone with cohousing 
experience, even if a lot of consultation is done by phone or on-line. Some 
cohousing consultants in Canada (from BC) travel to the group and spent a 
weekend with the group and local experts.  We could not get these same 
consultants to help us as they were too busy. We were in touch with McCammant 
and Durrett, but held off. We did hire local non profit developers, but they 
were new to cohousing and did help us with the people side of the planning.
Everyone in our group has acknowledged that we should have hired a cohousing 
consultant earlier in our process. We also acknowledge that we did not charge 
enough for equity memberships so we would have had the money to do so. 
I would say good luck, but you need knowledge and information more than luck.

Lynne Markell, 
Lmarkell [at]
(613) 842-5222

> On Apr 22, 2019, at 10:58 AM, KAREN A CARLSON via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l 
> [at]> wrote:
> Before I joined our still forming community the group had fired its first 
> architect (could not design less expensive units) and developer/consultant 
> and new ones were on board. I think that says something  about a group that  
> is willing to do the unpleasant part to get to the good part. The consultant 
> knew his business and the day we closed on our land I was told he earned 
> every penny we ever paid him. He knew all about city building codes and who 
> to work with. I can't imagine what it would have been without him.  We were 
> his first cohousing group. 
> Karen Carlson
> Arboretum Cohousing
> Madison Wi
> Sent from my iPhone
> On Apr 21, 2019, at 2:29 PM, Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l 
> [at]> wrote:
>>> On Apr 21, 2019, at 3:02 PM, frances woolison <franceswoolison [at] 
>>>> wrote:
>>> Our group has been busy, mostly working on marketing and recruiting new 
>>> members.  After a year of limited success, we feel like we’re going in 
>>> circles. How do we know what this project will cost? When should we 
>>> incorporate? How do we keep the interest of individuals who come to our 
>>> information sessions, and those who become associates?  How and when do we 
>>> set up equity memberships?  And the big question, should we hire a 
>>> cohousing consultant?  
>> My hunch, and I would like others to weigh in on this, is that the hard 
>> parts are in finding land and the construction process. There are judgement 
>> calls about the people part but you can only do what you can do. There are 
>> many people who can advise you on this — Ann Zabaldo could work with you on 
>> Zoom, for example.
>> Finding land and doing construction is different. I’m wondering if a local 
>> _experienced_ construction manager could be helpful working with someone who 
>> is experienced with cohousing development.
>> Sharon
>> ----
>> Sharon Villines
>> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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