Find a development manager
Collaborative housing projects form in different ways. Many are resident-initiated. Having formed and done some preliminary thinking, the group of prospective residents must find an expert development manager to guide them through the process of achieving their vision. In some models such as Nightingale, it is the development manager who initiates the project and helps to bring together the prospective residents.
Why a development manager?
Good facilitation and management is key to a successful collaborative housing project. With multiple households involved, an expert development manager is required to manage their input in decision making and navigate the complexities of the property development process. Financiers will want to see the group led by someone with sufficient expertise and a demonstrated track record in successful property development.
What does a development manager do?
In the collaborative housing context a development manager may be an individual or small team of professionals with property development credentials, and often with design expertise too. The development manager will guide the households through the process of feasibility assessment, land acquisition, securing finance, design, development approval and construction. The development manager will typically, with the group’s agreement, engage and manage any expert consultants that are required along the way.
The ideal development manager skillset
In Europe, collaborative housing projects have typically been managed by architects who have extended their skillset to include expertise in the development management process and the specific financial and legal issues around collaborative housing. With more projects happening in Australia, managing collaborative housing developments may become a recognised profession of its own.
A development manager will likely have a qualification in construction management, property development or architecture, and significant experience with the property development process. They will also have experience in managing participatory decision-making and design processes, managing conflict and coordinating consultant teams.
How do I find one?
Some groups may be lucky enough to have someone with the required experience within their collaborative housing group, if not then an outside professional should be sought. This kind of role is very new in Australia, so you may need to do some searching. A good starting point could be to talk to people involved in existing collaborative housing projects or search online to find out who managed the development – they may be able to help you or connect you to someone who can. Your architect or real estate agent might also be able to connect you to someone with the right expertise.
As a starting point, here are some Australian organisations we came across in our research who are working in this space:
Urbau (no website available)
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