Your dream to own a house in an estate can turn real faster than you envisage if you join or form a cooperative housing scheme.
It is the dream of many people to have their own houses in an estate. After all, it has some fundamental advantages over areas that came into being by accident. This is the reason that most of the private estates springing up in our cities are very attractive to people. But the question is: as desirable as living in the choice areas are, how many people can afford to buy land or houses in estates created by people who, first and foremost, are businessmen and want to make good money on their investments?
Yet, there is a way out. The alternative is for people of like minds to come together to create their own estates by involving in joint acquisition and development of land. Mr. Makanjuola Ojewumi, a seasoned estate surveyor and valuer, calls this scheme cooperative building in his book titled How to Build Your Own House. The book demystifies most the perceived obstacles on the way to getting one’s houses.
Cooperative building scheme, according to Ojewumi, involves the coming together of people of like-minds or interests coming together to jointly acquiring an expanse of land, and eventually creating a community of their own taste. It saves each member of the cooperative unit money and a lot of the hassles associated with building one’s own house on a separate site.
In a place where people have relatively low economic power, people have to learn to synergize. A lot more people who cannot afford to pay a huge amount of money wish to have plots to build their houses in serviced estates and buy plots at lower cost. You will be able to remove some of the problems individuals would have faced when they are doing it alone. Look at the common problem of Land speculators – the notorious land touts. When they know that they have multiple families to face in a group, they will think more than twice before coming out to attack you. This is unlike individuals that they can easily threaten and overrun.
The author further notes that they can cut off the developer’s profit the moment you form a group of like minds who are ready to create their own estate or site and service scheme. It suddenly becomes affordable because, for the same sort of environment others paid several amounts of money for, you pay about half that price. He cites the example of Cooperative Villa, Lekki, Lagos, which according to him, was formed several years ago by a group of young professionals. They came together under a cooperative umbrella and bought a vast underdeveloped land, cleared it and allocated to members under strict guidelines.
Cooperative building scheme is good for acquiring land. Here, there is the potential to leverage by purchasing large tracts of land for the common hold of members.
Also, the strength that resides in a team makes cooperative scheme good for borrowing money to build, while members are also bound to save money by buying building materials in bulk. Besides, the scheme has a way of stirring compulsory savings on the parts of individuals who will not want to lag behind when the plots are eventually shared.
The idea of cooperative building is all about synergizing, you share the risk of landholding. Quite a lot of people have had bad experiences with land. These range from cases of outright fraud, where you pay for land and ended up with nothing, or where paid consecutively for the same plot after terrible harassment, especially by land speculators. When cooperatives buy a huge land mass of several acres, it is likely to have involved communities or villages. Wide consultations involving family heads, traditional chiefs and executive members of the cooperative body, their agents and solicitors would have taken place. When the land is subdivided for members’ ownership, frivolous problems and harassment are less likely. And d if there is ever a problem on such land, it will touch everybody involved and collectively the problem can be tackled.
Other advantages include shared security, after the new community has emerged, and the investment potential the new community creates, since the population cluster is due to attract more people and a market to the area.
You need not wait till others introduce the cooperative building scheme to you. You can initiate one with members of your church or mosque. Also, it can be work place-based, while it can be built along the lines of professional, club or market relationship. Before you join any, however, you should consider the immediate and long-term implication of living in proximity with members of the group. You have to decide whether you can co-habit with your office colleagues, for instance, or with club mates who may later constitute threats to your privacy.
Once the pattern has been decided, and the scheme formed, the group now has to estimate the size of land required. It then begins the process of land assembly. The key point at this level is to agree on the direction of city growth, in terms of which areas are promising and coming up fast with development. Next is doing the layout and sub-division of the site, and this is a point where you begin to need the services of professionals, including town planners.