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OT: Drawing program for property layout

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  • OT: Drawing program for property layout

    I need to start on the development of our rural property. Need to figure out the layout - placement of septic, power, house, shop, road etc. Been sketching it out on an engineering pad, but of course this is not very flexible when running "what-if" scenarios.

    Is there a fairly user friendly program that would allow me to make some plans for something like this?

    In addition, I have access to an aerial photograph of our property, and would like to put this in the drawing program. Then be able to layout the various structures/roads within the aerial picture... if that makes any sense. Another words, I'd like to not have to draw in all the various tree stands, drainage ditches, creeks etc if possible. It would be nice to be able to scale the locations off the picture, but that is probably asking a little much.


  • #2
    I can't help you with your software question but true to this forum, that don't mean I ain't got something to say

    Just moved to a house that presents the morning sunrise to my breakfast table. It's just awesum.

    My barn doors and garage doors open facing East. The prevailing wind is SouthWest so I don't get rain or snow blowing in during heavy weather. Also, the barn is situated SW of the house so it takes a good deal of the hard blows that come thru. Front of the house faces North and is almost totaly windows for North light. If I leveled this place and started over I wouldn't do a damn thing differant.

    If you were going to do the solar heat thing you probably want your front of the house (usually the side with the most windows) facing solar South and this week would be a good time to see what that is by reading the shadow from a stick in your yard about 1:30pm. I understand you get more warming benefit from the sun after the noon hour than before it in Winter months. My wife's cousin is a home heating energy consultant in PA.

    Good luck and it's nice to see someone really putting some thought into it. I'm sure you'll be rewarded for your efforts.

    [This message has been edited by Your Old Dog (edited 12-12-2005).]
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

    It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.


    • #3
      Good points YOD. Also of consideration is to put the shop at such an angle or distance from the house so that my wife can't see all the packages UPS drops off in front of my shop...


      • #4
        I draw house plans for a living. I use DesignCad, I think you can buy a current copy for less than $100. I have also used AutoCad which costs about $3000. Never found anythind that AutoCad could do that DesignCad could not, and DesignCad is a whole lot easer and faster. With that said, unless you have other things you would use Cad for you would be better off using velum and pencils for a one time thing, because with any Cad package there is a large learing curve. Gary P. Hansen
        In memory of Marine Engineer Paul Miller who gave his life for his country 7-19-2010 Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Freedom is not free, it is paid for with blood.


        • #5
          Microoft Visio is pretty intuitive, though a bit pricey. $300?

          Any of the various versions that were released over the years would probably work for this type of application so a browse through Ebay might find you a bargain.

          Mike Henry near Chicago


          • #6
            I paid around $100 for AudoCad LT in a college book store. You had to have either a high school or college picture ID. Since AudoCad is based on an xy grid, I put a plastic grid on the arial photo and was able to locate features including property lines and streams through the property.


            • #7
              Wayne, what you need is called Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This is a geography-based program that takes an airphoto and lets you put information on it, move proposed features around, lay out surveyed property descriptions and calculate length of roads, sewer lines, area of lakes, etc., and print out the maps and supporting tables of information. There are databases of aerial photos, topographical maps, surface use info, cover types, and all kinds of other information that you may ever possibly need.

              Go to to get all the information you need to get started. Software is available but you will have to do some self-educating or take some courses to be able to use it well. Most computers being sold now are able to handle the software. It is going to cost a little but it will save you a lot of headache in developing your property and it is really fun to do.

              You can also do a Google search for GIS and a lot of stuff will come up, I guarantee.


              • #8
                This is a matter which involves actual work on the ground. Get a book on the basics of survey and it will generally direct you plus a chainman and a level to determine the altitude relationship of one bit of dirt to another. Once you have taken enough relationships you can link all those with the same relationship and thus build a contour map. You do this to ensure that when it rains, the water runs away from your bed rather than into it. Same with the septic.
                The contour map can be the basis for your planning.This done you are likely to take the ground into consideration when planning driveways and roads.You dont want to run a straight road thru the lowpoint dam.
                Even if your block is pretty flat do the contour will be surprised how much variation you get in flat paddocks.
                Do it well and you will rest easy at night.


                • #9
                  Here is another website that has the topographical maps (topo maps) that already have the contour lines. Not as good as a professional survey of your particular piece of property but pretty close. It will save you a lot of preliminary work. They also have air photos that are pretty good.


                  • #10
                    Wow, I remember Visio back before Microsoft got their hands in it. It was a whole suit of software that did just about any graphics manipulation. I mostly used the flowchart software at the time but it sure was nice... Then. (1994-95)

                    Too bad Ms got a hold of it and chopped it into pieces.

                    Seem all the software houses are chopping up software into smaller pieces to "improve" it.

                    You need only to buy all the pieces individually instead of getting everything at half the price.


                    • #11
                      <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Too bad Ms got a hold of it and chopped it into pieces. </font>
                      MS hasn't paid much attention to Visio of late but they have added some features that are handy for certain professions.

                      I've used it for PFDs and P&IDs for fairly simple chemical processes and it does a pretty good job at that. Being able to simply generate one's own templates can be a big plus too.

                      It's also handy for laying out a shop, though there never seems to be as much room as measuring would suggest once one gets into work flow.

                      Mike Henry near Chicago


                      • #12

                        Download this and use it's 30 day free trial

                        I think this will work out nicely for you.