From scouting to purchasing a site: the process step-by-step

The purpose of this post is to provide a step-by-step overview of the process to purchase a site. It is based on our Governance Document and on additional information that I retrieved from our coach.

I propose to use this post as a wiki, i.e. to make changes in this first post whenever new information comes in or we need to make a correction.

Last update: 13/11/2023

Note: unless specified otherwise, the links in this post are publicly accessible.

1. Scouting

2. Screening of the fiches

  • Objective: provide feedback to the scouters, discard the sites that don’t meet the criteria and identify the most promising sites

  • Useful documents: manual to screen the fiches

  • Overview file of the fiches that have been screened: internal link

3. Pre-feasibility studies

  • Team Building sends the fiches of the most promising sites to the architects, who make a first assessment. This is why it is important that the screening of the fiches is easy to understand by everybody.

  • Results can be found in the pre-feasibilities folder: internal link.

4. Selecting sites for a feasibility study

  • From the list of sites with a high score for the pre-feasibility study (++ or +++), at a plenary meeting the Full Members select a number of sites that will be sent to the architects for a feasibility study.

  • A sites passes if it gets 80% of the votes (2 votes per household). Further details are in the feasibility studies voting manual.

  • Before the sites are sent to the architects however, we need to check out whether the owner would be willing to sell the site, and at what price.

  • Some important notes:

    • The first 10 feasibility studies will be discounted by the architects if we decide to move on with them to build The Reef.

    • Feasibility studies are paid for by the hour, with a maximum of 10 (?) hours. This means that the price of the feasibility studies will be variable.

    • We have enough budget to do up to 20 feasibility studies

    • The biggest mistake we can make is not to send a site for feasibility study that will turn out to be dud, but the other way around: it would be an incredible pity if we would miss out on a good site because we were doubtful about whether it was good enough to send it on for a feasibility study.

  • Useful documents: Process to select the sites for a feasibility study

5. Presentation of the feasibility studies at a plenary meeting

  • Team Building will present the feasibility studies that have been completed at a plenary meeting. The links to these studies should be in the draft agenda 3 days ahead of the meeting at the latest.

  • The sites that have been presented will then be scheduled for a vote at the next plenary meeting, 3 weeks later. This means that Full Members have 3 weeks to learn more about the site to inform their vote.

6. Voting on the results of the feasibility studies

  • add a bullet point here on what a feasibility study entails exactly + where we are saving them – what we know is that it will include an indicative budget (price of the site + price of the works)]

  • add a bullet point that points to the guidance of the voting helping circle when they are ready

  • The Full Members decide whether they want to purchase site X with the indicative budget from the feasibility study.

  • The guidance from our coach on the vote is as follows:

    • Only allow “yes” and “no” votes, no abstentions.

    • Because the entire process is already focused on finding a site that meets our criteria (Blueprint with criteria, screening of the fiches, pre-feasibility studies) in theory everybody’s default vote should be “yes”.

    • If there is a “no” vote, it’s important to understand the reasons for this “no”, so that if there is a problem it can be debugged as soon as possible.

  • The decision is taken by a 70% majority vote, in which each household gets two votes.
    Some important notes:

    • The voting threshold is rounded off as it is done in mathematics (see numerical example (internal link)).

    • If a site gets 70% of the votes, this is the green light to purchase the site if possible.

    • The high threshold to make the purchase decision (i.e. 70%) implies that we can’t afford to accept too many households that want to live in a specific commune. Example: if there are 10 Full Members, and 4 of them each want to live in a different commune (and only that one) it becomes technically impossible to purchase a site.

7. Selecting a team of negotiators

8. Trying to purchase the site

  • The negotiators contact the owner and try to settle a deal (see role description of the negotiators ). They regularly report to Team Reef as agreed in the role description.

    • If the negotiators manage to convince the owner to sell the site at a price lower than or equal to the price set in the feasibility study, they set everything in motion to purchase the site. Yay! We just purchased a site.

    • If the seller asks a higher price, the issue goes back to the plenary meeting (Full Members), where there will be another 70% vote, either on purchasing the site at a higher price, or on amending the budget (i.e. lowering the price of the works or increasing the price per square meter). This gives the negotiators a mandate to go back to the seller and restart the negotiations.

9. Settling everything with the notary

  • Once a deal has been made, the negotiators hand over all essential information to Team Finance.

  • Team Finance works with the notary to get the compromise signed by our société simple.


Thanks Lee! It makes it all very clear I think!

I’m wondering if this shouldn’t actually be pinned at the top of the edgeryders’ Reef category?
Same for the wiki on scouting (and potentially others like the price calculations when we have worked it out?)

I feel that it would make things much easier to find the most relevant info again, and especially for new people, but not only!

I don’t have strong feelings about this, but my concern would be that we get even more pinned post, and that as a consequence people may not find their way to the ongoing posts.

Can it be an option that I make a dedicated post or document, with links to all the posts that contain essential information?


Everybody can decide for himself what to pin or not I think ?

I understand your concern, indeed!
I think a “mother post” could be helpful for everybody, but at the same time, it’s more work for you, so maybe not the best idea. Happy to let you decide if you feel that it is worth the effort or not!

Ah, I’m not aware of that; how do you do it?
But maybe we are talking about different things? I’m talking of the first few posts that appear when you go to the Reef categorie page (from clicking the hamburger menu on the right upper corner for example)

Well @Sarah I could unpin some posts in my first page but I don’t find the way to pin new ones … :face_with_monocle:

I was planning something along those lines anyway, so if it can wait a little I’d be happy to take care of it.

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Thanks @Lee for updating this! Commenting as per your request :slight_smile:

I think you mixed up pre-feasibility and feasibility in this? And also the step about sending it to the architect shouldn"t be there yet, itmakes it a bit confusing I think.
Shouldn"t it read something like:

4. Selecting candidates for a feasibility study

  • Objective: discard the sites that got a negative result from the pre-feasibility studies and identify the most promising sites (And i would remove: and send them to the architects for a possible feasibility study.)
  • Overview / summary of all the pre-feasibility studies: internal link

@reef-building decided to do that before sending for pre-feasibility

I feel that these are elements to be worked out in the voting helping circle? Is it urgent to write it down already?

We shouldn’t wait to have voted on the first study, but appoint the team in advance. Maybe it doesn’t matter here, but we should keep that in a corner of our heads…

And the numbering got a bit funny :slight_smile:

Thanks a lot @Sarah!

It was a mess :upside_down_face:, thanks for spotting that! I fixed it by just removing that point, which also solved the numbering problem.

You do you, but I think you are going to save us a lot of time if we only look for the owners of pre-feasibility studies that come back with two or three plusses. Can we talk about this?

For me the aim of the helping circle was mostly to focus on procedural issue: how many households are voting, what is the threshold, how do we handle proxies etc.

The points listed here are those that are recommended by the coach, so I would personally prefer to not start from a blank page. Let’s talk?

There’s a bit of a trade-off I think: the longer we wait, the more Full Members we’ll have and so the more candidates we have.

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Just a small remark about this: @reef-building decided to look into sites that don’t seem abandoned before sending them for a pre-feasibility study (contact the company/asbl that seems to occupy the building to discard sites that are definitely not for sale) - to me, this is not equivalent to contacting the owner/entering into negotiations which we would, indeed, only do for sites that receive a positive feedback from the architects during pre-feasibility.

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Thanks for the clarification Sophie.

We can take in his advice but I still think we need to clarify what voting no means and how we deal with it… At least that was one of the aims of the circle for me. But yes, let’s talk :slight_smile:

Ah yes, good thinking…