People buy homes in planned unit developments because economies of scale often affordable than the classic single-family home on its own lot.

PUBs are a logical compromise step between the high or mid-rise living offered by most condominums and expensive detached homes. They also offer a lifestyle attractive to many.

Maintenance is usually taken care of by someone else. In a town house project, the unit often includes the land under it and a back yard large enough to hold ant races. Beyond this, however, there may be green spaces (mowed by someone else) a swimming pool (watched by someone else) and other amenities.

Some projects even provide for exterior maintenance of the units by someone else. This limited maintenance who don't want to spend weekends contemplating the infinite mysteries of power lawn mowers.

There is considerable appeal in the community aspects of PUD living, particularly in the larger projects, but there are some disadvantages.

As a member of the owners association that both owns and sees to the management of the common areas, you might be obliged to become involved in meetings and possibly serve as an officer on one committee or another. This tends to be time-consuming and, in many cases, frustrating, as debates drone on and personalities clash and sub-groups form over the right color to paint the benches.

In the grand scheme of things, though, the active participation of homeowners in the project's government is important to the well-being of the community. The degree of importance is related to the extent and nature of common areas under the control of the association.

It also follows that someone has to pay for the paint for the benches, and the chlorine for the pool and the mowing of the lawn and the sundry toting of barges and lifting of bales involved in mainting common areas. This is where the homeowner is perhaps most painfully involved.

In addition to payments to principal on interest on the mortgage, and tax and insurance payments, each unit owner is required to cough up monthly payments to the owners association. Again, depending upon the nature of the common areas, it is important for the project to have an intelligently prepared budget that projects future expenses so that special assessments will be as rare as possible.

In other words, if the swimming pool machinery goes bad, there should be adequate funds in reserve to repair or replace the defective parts without tapping the homeowners for a special assessment. It is for this reason that many PUDs have hired professional management companies to do the books, prepare the budgets and administer the details of common area maintenance.

The point is that managing a PUD requires expertise that is often found only in good professional property managers. And while the expenses of management are piled on top of the obvious expenses involved in maintaining the plant, management fees may, in the long run, prove to be money well spent.

In any event, the monthly fee to the association is as voluntary and welcome as a subpeona. Failure to pay could result in a lien on the unit and possible loss of your property in satisfaction of the lien.