Choosing a confesseur

Calling @reef-finance. I got a reply from Mark: the confesseur from Brutopia apparently accepted our proposal “with enthusiasm”. His name is Jean-Pierre; I will not share his contact information here, they are in an email to the common mail address.

So, now what? @Celine_D, is it better that you sit in both appointments, so you can make an immediate comparison, or would you like me to take Jean-Pierre, and you can take Marcel?

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Thanks for the piece of news, Alberto. I think it would be good to have a small team of 2-3 people meeting all the candidates (time permitting).
However, the issue I have now is that nobody in team Finance or team Building has shown availability for a meeting with Marcel this week (I mean until Wednesday, as I’m not available afterwards), and I feel that meeting him alone would be a lack of collective intelligence.

Hmm, would you be willing to go ahead anyway? The mantra: done is better than perfect, and Team Finance is drowning. The good news is that @ugne is considering joining, we spoke on Saturday.

Hi guys! Yes, happy to join and help as much as my time allows!


Ok, so my proposal is this. Let’s talk to the confesseurs in separate groups. We need to ask:

  1. Are you doing this as a volunteer or as a paid service? In the latter case, what is your fee? (for Jean-Pierre, we know Marcel is a volunteer).
  2. Languages?
  3. What information do you need in order to do your viability check?
  4. Do you prefer to see people in person or online? Where, how would it work logistically? (Marcel lives near Antwerp. Not sure about Jean-Pierre).
  5. How often would you be willing to do this? One household a week or so?

The groups could be as follows:

  1. For Marcel: @Celine_D and whoever wants to join (@ugne maybe)?
  2. For Jean-Pierre: myself and whoever wants to join.

What do you guys think?

Hi @ugne If you agree with Alberto’s suggestion that we meet Marcel Heymans together, when would you be available at the beginning of next week?

Marcel and I are both available next Tuesday (from 11 AM until 7:30 PM). Also possibly on Monday evening.
If you would like to join, please tell me your preferred time today by 4:30 pm.
If no replies, I’ll go for Tuesday at 5.

@Celine_D, has @ugne finally replied to you?

I am also struggling to find someone else to come with me to the interview with Jean-Pierre (in French). I guess my best bet is to go alone, and get it done next week. What do you think, @reef-finance ?

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Hi guys,
Sorry for my very late reply. I realized I don’t get notifications on my emails & i thought I do, so i haven’t checked the edgeryders for a while.
I would have loved joining @Celine_D on Tuesday at 5pm, but i see i have a doctor’s appointment with Ada st 16h30 that i don’t want to change & Manuel is working that day till 21h, so he can’t replace me either :frowning:

In this case, could i join @alberto Alberto for the meeting in French (especially as you are alone). Is there a date or not yet?

Let me know,

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Hi @Celine_D

Where is your meeting with confesseur on Tuesday at 17h?
I’ve just spoken to Manuel and maybe he could take Ada instead for a short while? Can you give me your phone, i will ring you tomorrow for details. Maybe we can make it happen.

Do you need help with that?

I will ask Manuel, no worries!

Hello @reef-finance,

I’m a little confused on this topic. Will you be ready to present it at the plenary meeting on Thursday, or do you prefer to wait until the 15th?

Wait, without a doubt.

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Hi guys,
Just a quick note to say that i finally managed to find a solution and will be joining @Celine_D at the meeting with confesseur today at 5pm (online). We will have a separate call before to discuss the details & content of the call.

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Reporting on today’s meeting with Jean-Pierre. I instinctively liked him a lot. He seems kind, wise and unassuming.

The meeting started by recapping the confesseur process. With respect to Mark’s version, Jean-Pierre emphasized three things:

  1. Team of two. Brutopia actually had two confesseurs. He himself acted as the main one, but a second person, member of the group, with less financial experience than he, was the backup.
  2. Evidence. Part of the process is to show to the confesseur documents that prove the solvency of the member: extrait banque, extrait de patrimoine mobilier, etc.
  3. A delicate matter. He is aware that this process can be triggering, and recommends a delicate touch: confidentiality over full transparence, in-person first meetings, etc.

Answers to our questions:

  1. Are you doing this as a volunteer or as a paid service? In the latter case, what is your fee?

Jean-Pierre sees this as volunteering. He would ask the group to make a small donation to a foundation dedicated to cancer research.

  1. Languages?

He is native to French, but can be the confesseur in Dutch and English as well.

  1. What information do you need in order to do your viability check?

See above: information on cash and other assets that can be liquidated, and the relative supporting documents like extrait banque, extrait de patrimoine mobilier, etc.

  1. Do you prefer to see people in person or online? Where, how would it work logistically? How often would you be willing to do this? One household a week or so?

Definitely in person for the first meeting, and ideally with two confesseurs to make it feel less like an exam. He suggests to use the same method as Brutopia did, which was a sort of clinic: make 4-5 one-hour appointments in the same day. They borrowed Stekke & Fraas’s meeting room, which he reckons we could still do. This is doable pretty much always, except on Tuesdays. He is also going to be traveling in October and November.

After we have @Celine_D and @ugne’s report, we can move on to creating a proposal on the process!

Hi @reef-finance,

For the sake of transparency: I sent an email to Mark today to ask some further questions about the timing of the confesseur process. Alberto and I realised that we are not fully clear about when we should do it, and how precise the data on the cost of the units should be. I’ll keep you posted once I get an answer.

Here is a link to our report on the meeting with Marcel Heymans, drafted by Ugne : Nextcloud

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Hi reef-finance,


The short answer we received from Mark is “Yes, do it as soon as possible, if need be based on estimated prices. And then do a second round just before the moment of the purchase.”

Full reply

Below is a machine-translated (corrected) copy of question and answers.

1) At what stage did you hold the confesseur process in Brutopia (or in the other groups)? Was that at the very beginning, or rather just before you started looking for a site?

“The confesseur seems useful to me after a common and private program has been decided to which a probable budget can also be linked + it is clear where the site should be looked for. Then an important step has already been taken and it would be a good time to confront everyone with their financial possibilities.”

2) If it was rather in the beginning:
  • On the basis of what financial cost data did you hold the confesseur process?
  • Or also: how can someone ever know what he/she/they can afford if we do not know what our budget looks like, the exact price per m² and the “fourchette” / “accordéon” in function of the sales value?
  • Or also: should we wait for a more precise estimate, or can we start the process with the estimate of S+F (3500 euros / m² (with finishing and parking)?

"You can’t help but work with a theoretical budget. So start from the current market price in Brussels, but then everything included. If the market price has been determined, a group can also decide to stay below that by 20%, which of course has an impact on the program or location of the site.

This theoretical market price is an average price which means that once the site has been chosen the possibility is examined whether a fork in the price is possible. For example, if you buy a beguinage, everyone has exactly the same home and a fork is not possible. At this stage, it is only possible to work with “rough” figures, but these are good enough to confront everyone with the financial reality.

It is a good exercise to find a financial balance between the private and joint programme. This balance can also be made clear with simple examples: based on the current desired program, a 2-room apartment of 90m2 has a private cost of X€ and a common cost of Y€. If I have a budget that is only the amount X€ I might be able to settle for 70m2 or a more limited budget for the community. Of course, the latter is only possible if everyone agrees with this.

This exercise must be made before you begin the search for a site. This is because there is no time for such discussion when the site is found. This theoretical exercise can be seen as a benchmark. Everyone knows that if a site is purchased that is more expensive than this “benchmark” after completion, cuts will have to be made in the private or /and common program."

3) If it was rather towards the end: How, then, can we make an early assessment of whether our resources correspond to our wishes?

“I am therefore in favour of a relatively early check (see.1) of the finances because this brings reality into the project. A second test is of course necessary at the time of purchase. There it is important that only those people buy that we know can also handle this financially.”


Hello Albert,
I am not also receiving email notifications