Thursday, February 05, 2009

creating a base plan

So it makes sense that the best way to start any design project is to begin with a some idea of what you want to accomplish and we did that with our list of questions. The next step is to take an inventory of what you have at hand. That will be the subject of today's post. We're going to Sharon's house or more specifically to the courtyard just outside her kitchen to create a base plan. You can follow along and create a base plan for your property.

Before we get started you'll grab a few items:

1. A pencil, some paper and a few coloured pencils or crayons if you have them. I highly recommend graph paper. You can download some by clicking here.

2. A measuring tape

3. A camera. This isn't absolutely necessary but a great help.

Begin by sketching your area of focus. If you intend to create a master plan for your entire property you'll probably want to start by sketching parts of the property and combining those sketches later on.

At this point don't try and be exact. Just draw lengths and widths relative to each other. For example if the driveway extends about one car length past the garage draw it that way. We'll refine these later so don't get hung up on getting it exactly right the first time. Here's a (refined) sketch of the courtyard we're using as an example. At this point just get all the major elements: hard surfaces, walls, doors and windows.

Use colour to better define certain areas if that helps.

Now measure all the distances you can to help better refine the plan. Mark those dimensions on the plan. We'll redraw it later to better represent the accurate distances.

Now label all of the physical items you think relevant to your plan. Be sure to include existing plants.

Now add notes about site features. These might include activities, persistent problems, great views, the place where the cat always sleeps, etc. This is where the answers to your questions start to merge with your base plan. You might want to take pictures for a record of what some of these site features look like. This might make redrawing the plan easier too.

The key to creating a successful base plan, especially if you've never done this before, is to realize that you are going to redraw this thing many, many times before you get it eaxctly as you want it. Think of it as a living document that is going to change throughout the process, not a perfect picture of what you have now or plan to create in the future.

The graph paper I mentioned above can help with getting the dimensions drawn more accurately. Let one square represent a unit of distance. 1 square = 1 foot for example. If you find that doesn't give you a big enough sheet of paper try 1 square = 2 feet. This would mean drawing a 10 foot long wall using 5 blocks. If you still don't have enough room try 1 square = 5 feet. NOw that 10 foot wall would only be 2 blocks long on your base plan. Eventually you'll find a scale that will work.

Hopefully this is enough information to get you outside with measuring tape, pencil and paper in hand. If you have any trouble just leave a comment or send an email and I'll try to help.


nika said...

I was wondering if there might not be some use to building some sort of heat sink wall system along the interior periphery of the small courtyard to further warm this microclimate?

What would be in-expensive, retains heat well, easy to build/install, hold up to the weather, and not have a too large a foot print (oh, and also, be attractive)

william said...

Hey, very useful. I've thought about doing permaculture, but somehow never got my hands dirty. Glad that Ran provided the link. Cheers from New Zealand.

mos6507 said...

What kind of diagram software are you using?

nulinegvgv said...

AutoCAD and Adobie Suite.

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This is a good idea I'm gonna create a plan like this because this is perfect, but I want to create a plan to get in the house of my girlfriend because my mother in law doesn't allow me to share moments with her daughter.

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For me the most difficult part is the creation of the base plan, it has to be perfect otherwise the whole plan can turn bad.