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Question for Permaculture Designers; Remote Work

 
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Does anyone have any experience designing a permaculture landscape completely remotely? What I mean by that is, has anyone consulted for a client and designed their entire permaculture landscape without ever going to and seeing the property? Does anyone think this is possible? I would love to know. The only reason I have hopes that something like this could be possible is because it's essentially what I do for work but not for permaculture design. I work as a system designer and do most of my design work in AutoCAD from home. I do often have to go to the customer's sites to do a survey but the bulk of my work is done remotely. I'd love to hear if there are any designers out there who use a CAD software and have created permaculture designs completely remotely.
 
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I'm sure someone will say they can do this, but advise against it. You can definitely get some consulting over the phone or online--even Paul does phone consultations, but permaculture design really takes in-person observation to make good decisions. There are a million factors that no one could possibly think to ask over the phone. Land slope, soil types, water retention, water sources, rainfall, existing growth, weather conditions throughout the year, resources, etc. etc etc. you could go on forever I think.
 
Jacob Gelinas
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Are there any types of maps (topographical, soil surveys, etc) that would be able to make the process more accurate for remote work? I understand your concerns completely and those are the concerns I have with the idea as well. But I'm wondering if anyone has found a method to work around those issues with decent results. Would pictures of the property help enough to make a decent design? The intent would be to be able to implement permaculture designs on a broader scale. They wouldn't necessarily have to be perfect and they can always be improved. But could a good, solid, foundational permaculture design be implemented remotely?
 
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Jacob Gelinas wrote:Are there any types of maps (topographical, soil surveys, etc) that would be able to make the process more accurate for remote work?



Yes.  There is GoMaps.  It has parcels, zoning, elevation, satellite, topography, water table, flood zone 100 year history, soils, fire district, etc etc etc etc.  

I strongly encourage you not to do this.  I tried to do something similar for a few sites just ten minutes away as I was trying to plan a land purchase.  I walked the properties a few times, did soil samples to confirm (GoMaps was accurate), water sources (accurate), topography (accurate to within a few inches as far as I can tell.)  I took pictures.  Lots of pictures.  I made maps and planned locations for house, gardens, driveway, trails, water, etc.

I spent a month doing this.

As a last minute check I walked the land again with a friend of mine to talk over my plans.  He pointed out at least three things I hadn't thought of that would have cost me tens of thousands of dollars all totaled.  I found a few myself.  And I can only imagine what would have happened if I'd spent a night there, walked around a bit more.  I seriously would have almost doubled the cost of the lot just from driveway miscalculations I made, and also the impact of just a few feet of incline on the home foundation.
 
Jacob Gelinas
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Rob Lineberger wrote:

Jacob Gelinas wrote:Are there any types of maps (topographical, soil surveys, etc) that would be able to make the process more accurate for remote work?



Yes.  There is GoMaps.  It has parcels, zoning, elevation, satellite, topography, water table, flood zone 100 year history, soils, fire district, etc etc etc etc.  

I strongly encourage you not to do this.  I tried to do something similar for a few sites just ten minutes away as I was trying to plan a land purchase.  I walked the properties a few times, did soil samples to confirm (GoMaps was accurate), water sources (accurate), topography (accurate to within a few inches as far as I can tell.)  I took pictures.  Lots of pictures.  I made maps and planned locations for house, gardens, driveway, trails, water, etc.

I spent a month doing this.

As a last minute check I walked the land again with a friend of mine to talk over my plans.  He pointed out at least three things I hadn't thought of that would have cost me tens of thousands of dollars all totaled.  I found a few myself.  And I can only imagine what would have happened if I'd spent a night there, walked around a bit more.  I seriously would have almost doubled the cost of the lot just from driveway miscalculations I made, and also the impact of just a few feet of incline on the home foundation.



Ron,

Thanks so much for the reply. I had never heard of GoMaps before but it sounds like a great program! It's a good thing you were able to catch all of that before making any big miscalculations. It sounds like your situation was for a new build of a property though. This type of design would be for existing homes on existing properties. Do you think GoMaps would be a viable first step in the design process for these applications? Again, the designs wouldn't necessarily have to be perfect but would have to be a great starting point before getting onsite.
 
Rob Lineberger
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I can only reiterate that I advise against it but if you are determined,  I hope it works out well for you.  
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