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Fees for small scale design & consultation?

 
Rusty Bowman
Posts: 134
Location: Idaho
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Hope it's not inappropriate to ask here but I'm curious as to what others, who offer small scale home permaculture consultation and design, are charging per hour for. Email if you prefer.

Thanks.
 
                                    
Posts: 44
Location: Lynnwood, Washington
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Rusty I have revised my response to you after seeing your site.  It has a sophisticated appeal.  The suggestion is that your consultation services address buildings and land-the whole property with high end artistic sensibilities.  Is this what you wish to convey?  This is professional level design at well over 100 per hour.  Someone else will know better than I.  Love of the land and devotion to your work shows too.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
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rusty wrote:
Hope it's not inappropriate to ask here but I'm curious as to what others, who offer small scale home permaculture, are charging per hour for consultation and design. Email if you prefer.

Thanks.


Rusty, I don't personally think someone could just consult and do design on your property for maximum efficency without being there for a year.  I never realized how important this phase was until I got my own property, because as I have been told by so many, "Everything you do the first year is wrong."

Seems to be true! 

Seriously, a good design starts with observing the whole of the property for a long long time, and continuing to do so after things are changed.  Micro-climates are amazing & you are the one who can create them for your own needs.

Try reading Gaia's garden, or Smart Permaculture design..  start slow and small on your own.  You can do it! 
 
                                    
Posts: 44
Location: Lynnwood, Washington
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Pak you are so right.  My thinking is that many people who are starting to get interested in growing food may have zero experience.  Many years of gardening have taught me a few basic things that are worth a lot to someone who knows nothing.  One thing I can do on a property anywhere is at least identify the sunniest places.  Just that is a great starting point for someone who knows nothing.  Most of the people who post here have long forgotten how ignorant they were at one time.  I remember with amazement the level of ignorance I had at one time.  I have learned much but admit to still having much to learn.  In this amazing world of ours, I am a beginner but I sure have a lot to offer someone who has never put foot to a shovel. 
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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if you want to do this without jumping into deep water its best to start at the bottom imo, most people wont just let you design a piece of land without seeing what you do(small gardens maybe, small tasks yea). I did a relatives place for free( 1/4 acre forest garden ) in exchange for food out of the FG for the first year, lots of annual veggies to get things going so i had weekly fresh food. after that it gets easier as long as a lot of people see your work. Most of the time i don't even have to say i do work designing gardens at all, people come over and see the forest garden, they hear how it works from me and simply say "I want one".

im not in this for the money, just enough to have what i need so i charge people varying rates depending on what they want and how much they can to pay. some people are poor and just want good food so i often give them advice and some free starts or barter something, in turn often they tell others who can pay and do want work. in the end pretty much everyone wins.

i find the biggest problem, not related to this thread really in terms of money but the customer. is they want a lot of food. yet they dont want to process 50 lbs of apples, 15 lbs of currants/gooseberries, 25 lbs of tomatoes a week or bi weekly and a lot of food doesn't get eaten or processed. at least its a forest garden and everything will recycle itself but sometimes peoples eyes see more than they can handle.
 
Rusty Bowman
Posts: 134
Location: Idaho
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Thanks to all for the replies. I have done the last half dozen+ plus consulting jobs for free. Can't do that all the time though

Pakanohida, actually, I'm not looking to hire anyone. I offer permaculture & eco architectural design & consulting services (see my site if curious) and feel out of the loop with prices. I want to be fair yet, like most people, I too need to make some money. I'm very flexible with my fees and offer the option to barter (list of items on my site). I'm just curious what (or how) others are charging.
 
                                    
Posts: 147
Location: Anoka Sand Plain, MN Zone 4/5, Sunset Zone 43
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(first let me qualify this post: i have never done any design or consultation.)

if you are a total pro the rate you bill at should be the same amount a doctor, lawyer or architect with a small practice would charge.  lets say around $100 an hour.  that'd for design only.  i'd say 2/3s that as a rate for physical labor or maybe the same rate if you had an assistant and/or really good equipment.

now how to get there is a different question which soil addressed well.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 855
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Because Permaculture is so eclectic... and what 'permaculture design services' are can vary so much I think you have at least three questions you'd have to answer at some point...

What is the demographic of your target client? (middle class or gourmet or the masses?)
What is the accustomed pay in the industry you are attempting to enter (see below).
What will your local market sustain (rural vs. urban...)

Off the top of my head, In Puget Sound, good freelance gardeners with trucks who do work for others probably shouldn't get paid less than $30/hour in an urban area unless they are lowball mow and blow companies, Real construction or pro-designers $50-70.  Heavy equipment, $80-100, Landscape Architecture $100-120.  Field scientists $50-100.  High end engineering consulting firm project managers bill at $150/hour.

When I was doing small residential design build, nothing more than dry set, woodwork, and planting in Seattle 10 years ago I charged $25-30/hour.  I did design by bid, and install on time and materials and was undercutting the market.  At that time, my customers were liberal middle class and into ecology, and were shopping for a landscape product, not a lifestyle.

State depts of labor and industries have something called 'prevailing wage' that has to do with state contracting rules and may be useful... for example:
http://www.lni.wa.gov/TradesLicensing/PrevWage/WageRates/
 
Rusty Bowman
Posts: 134
Location: Idaho
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Thanks for the additional posts, you two. Gives me more to ponder.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 855
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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soil wrote:
i find the biggest problem, not related to this thread really in terms of money but the customer. is they want a lot of food. yet they dont want to process 50 lbs of apples, 15 lbs of currants/gooseberries, 25 lbs of tomatoes a week or bi weekly and a lot of food doesn't get eaten or processed. at least its a forest garden and everything will recycle itself but sometimes peoples eyes see more than they can handle.


Say that again!  The world doesn't need more gardens (everything gardens..) it needs more gardeners in the full sense of the word.  Maybe that hackneyed quote should be 'you can solve all the world's problems in a gardener...'
 
                                
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I would not be too concerned about any particular prevailing fee for Permaculture Design especially in terms of an hourly fee. Offering a "package" which you develop and is based on your pre-determined cap for the number of hours it takes may be more marketable than stating an hourly fee.  The fee is based on what the market will pay and if they see the value in your cost vs. what they get.
 
Rusty Bowman
Posts: 134
Location: Idaho
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pattimair Hatfield wrote:Rusty I have revised my response to you after seeing your site.  It has a sophisticated appeal.  The suggestion is that your consultation services address buildings and land-the whole property with high end artistic sensibilities.  Is this what you wish to convey?  This is professional level design at well over 100 per hour.  Someone else will know better than I.  Love of the land and devotion to your work shows too.


Hi Pattimair,

I missed your revised response a year ago but by pure accident, stumbled upon it today. Better late than never, right?

At any rate, thank you for the good words and feedback! I don't think of my services as being "high end" as you said but otherwise, yes, what you say is true in regards to what I try to convey on my site (speaking of which, the site has probably changed a fair bit since this time last year).

Re my inquiry on fees, some time in the interim, I decided on $45/hr as a baseline for what I call a "general permaculture consultation". That may be low, I don't know. However, my primary goal is to make my services available to the widest possible demographic....hence one reason for my offering the bartering option as well as a sliding fee scale. I'm even considering a certain number of free consultations during April through the Earthen Exposure Facebook page..... in celebration for Earth Day as well as a way to promote permaculture in general. Don't have the details worked out yet so would love to hear some ideas...from anyone. But I digress. Thanks again for the feedback and sorry for such a tardy response!

rusty
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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If you will be offering some free consultations, may I make a suggestion?

Have the first meeting at your place, not theirs. If they will not commit to the 'chore' of going to your place, it is unlikely that they will commit to following through the ideas that you provide them. That way, you will save countless hours pampering many people who just saw the "Free" sign. You can weed out those who are least likely to follow through.

When you invite them over, have them bring some pics of their property. You can look over the pics, view online topo maps, and chat with them about their goals before you visit their property. You'll have the advantage of some knowledge of the task at hand, and also know that they have enough initiative to start the ball rolling. Anybody can pick up a phone when they see a "Free" sign.
 
Rusty Bowman
Posts: 134
Location: Idaho
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John Polk wrote:If you will be offering some free consultations, may I make a suggestion?

Have the first meeting at your place, not theirs. If they will not commit to the 'chore' of going to your place, it is unlikely that they will commit to following through the ideas that you provide them. That way, you will save countless hours pampering many people who just saw the "Free" sign. You can weed out those who are least likely to follow through.

When you invite them over, have them bring some pics of their property. You can look over the pics, view online topo maps, and chat with them about their goals before you visit their property. You'll have the advantage of some knowledge of the task at hand, and also know that they have enough initiative to start the ball rolling. Anybody can pick up a phone when they see a "Free" sign.


John,

Thank you for the good suggestion. Appreciate it! I welcome all others too.

rusty
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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