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I need a seasoned Permaculture Designer to help me figure out how to charge for Permaculture Designs  RSS feed

 
Alex Ojeda
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I've been designing for years for free or donations. I'm about to get a big paid gig. If you don't charge, you don't get the gig. That seems to be how it works. SO, I need someone to help me to figure out how to charge for permaculture design. I've got two other seasoned, but never paid permaculture designers that are going to help me on this project of 100 acres.

Any help would be very welcome!
 
nathan luedtke
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The inestimable Darren Doherty has a FAQ up that details his cost structure in pretty plain language. I think he has some other "job planning" worksheets around that let a designer or client estimate the cost of a job. You could use his structure as a model, adjusting for USD, and relative levels of experience. You could charge per acre, based on the detail of planning your client expects.

I would certainly aim for as high an hourly rate as you can get- especially because if this is your first big paid gig, you'll probably end up spending quite a few unpaid hours on the job, and you want to cover your cost for that time. My wife works freelance and we often talk about how its better to have a high hourly and then add some unpaid hours, than to have a low hourly that reflects your unpaid hours.


Here's a great consultant/contractor story:

Charles Steinmetz spent most of his later career working for the General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York. In 1902, Steinmetz retired to take a teaching position at Schenectady's Union College. General Electric later called on Steinmetz to return as a consultant by Henry Ford, after a very complex system broke and the General Electric technicians failed to fix it. Steinmetz agreed to return for the consulting work. He examined the broken system, found the malfunctioning part, and marked it with a piece of chalk. Charles Steinmetz submitted a bill to General Electric for $10,000 dollars. Henry Ford was miffed at the bill and asked for an itemized invoice.
Steinmetz sent back the following invoice:

Making chalk mark $1
Knowing where to place it $9,999



Best of luck in this gig!
 
Alex Ojeda
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Thanks Nathan! I like that story. It's an oldie, but a goodie!
 
Alex Ojeda
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Nathan, now that I've been looking for it, I have no idea where this is. Can you give me a pointer?

Thanks!
 
nathan luedtke
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Haha I had seen it recently but couldn't remember where. I googled "10000 dollar chalk" and came up with this page.
 
Rick LaJambe
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Nathan, I believe Alex is referring to being unable to find Darren's FAQ and job costing chart.
 
nathan luedtke
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Rick, I believe you may be correct.

Darren's FAQ is here. There's also some price info on his services page.
 
Alex Ojeda
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nathan luedtke wrote:Rick, I believe you may be correct.

Darren's FAQ is here. There's also some price info on his services page.


Yes, that's right. The quote is cool, but I really need help figuring out how to charge when designing permaculture sites.

Thanks for any help!
 
brandon gross
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Don't you need a architect certification to sell plans in the states, unless of course you place at least one part of the design in its place. Designer verses architect clause thing? I may be in left field or this may just apply to landscapes not farms?
 
Andrew Millison
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Location: Corvallis, Oregon
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Brandon,
I sell plans without any sort of license all the time. I believe the distinction is when you are creating a "conceptual design" versus "construction documents". Construction documents that go out to bid are legal documents that need to be backed up with insurance, because the designer can ultimately be sued for a faulty design. So you need the license to get the insurance....I think.

I did just do a set of construction docs, but it was for a developer who has all the legal overhead, and it was considered an "in-house" job.

Regarding what to charge, around here (Western Oregon) the going rate for an experienced designer seems to be $50-75 per hour. Most designs personally take me 30-40 hours (but that GREATLY varies depending on the scale and scope). So that puts the average design in the range of $1500-3000. But every job and relationship with the client is unique. I've also been designing properties for around 15 years and worked in a Landscape Architect office so have the ability to make a plan graphically professional. I probably started doing design work for $15-20 per hour, and then also did the installation as well, so the planning and construction pieces start to meld together in a design-build project. People are more apt to want to pay for physical work than mental work when there's an overall budget and you're doing it all.

Hope that helps,

Andrew
 
brandon gross
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Andrew thanks so much for the clerification.
 
John Brownlee
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Hey Andrew, Alex, and anyone else who can help,
I found this thread this morning while I was looking for information on a permaculture design business. My wife and I are planning on starting a design business this next year. we are currently gathering funds and saving for me to take a PDC late winter or early spring of 2014 and hopefully we will have enough for me to also attend the permaculture voices conference. I really need some advice and direction on how to get this going. I want to focus on small-scale suburban lots at first, designing miniature food forests for backyards.
Besides taking a PDC, what should be my first 3 steps to get this going?
I really appreciate any advice anyone could help me with.
Thanks in advance,
JB
 
Devon Olsen
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