Seeking someone skilled in entering topography for my new house

Recommended Posts

I am purchasing a new home and I have really enjoyed using Chief Architect to do what if scenarios on my property.  My new lot is much more complicated (on a hill).  I am looking to hire someone to research the topo maps and setup my initial state for my house and lot.  I have the blueprints for the house built in 77 and have already entered them.  But the lot topography is a bit much of a time learning curve for me at this time. 


I assume there is someone here who can do this for a fixed price or hourly rate.




Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure what area you are in but it is not likely that you will be satisfied with public topo maps for your lot elevations.  They will give you a general idea on a very large lot but not detailed enough for proper drainage and planning.  If you have access to a builders level and tripod you can lay out a grid and collect some pretty accurate measurements in a few hours and enter that into Chief.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you saying CA doesn't have a "Lot Planner" module similar to Room Planner, where you could walk around the lot with a handheld GPS device and record the datum on the lot site for instant topo maps?


Where is that suggestion forum now? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Depending on how complicated your lot shape is you could just get  a builder or other how haw a laser lever and get a prity good idea then create a model from the levels he give you from the level. Way cheaper 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure how that would work with just a laser level, since the laser would only give you the z coordinate... and without the x and y coordinates of the z, that info would be useless.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I use chief all the time for this kind of stuff.  I make models all the time for ideal lot placement.  Typically on lake lots with heavy topo and involving basement / stem wall foundation construction.


You can do some amazing things with Chief,....just have to think outside the box a little sometimes.   I do cut/balance calcs as well.


Not too hard at all!


Here is a recent example.  (skip to 1:30 in first vid for the "3d" example) This lot had 22' of fall across bld envelope.  (I am talking the client and owners in the video...but you get the idea)  @ 7:20 I go into driveway..etc.


Second vid the foundation "design" suitable for cost estimating.  (after optimized)  Cool part at 2:45 where you can really see what you are planning foundation wise.



Second vid is the foundation design (so we can do a rough cost estimate)   It will be engineered at a later date but done enough of them to cost it from this model.




  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks guys.   The terrain is just standard modeled.

The prop lines and set back are sidewalks (used for 3d visual purposes)

The transparency setting and can be used to make all the grids.   Just the stock black tile patter with whit joints.  Resized, and applied to a CAD poly line solid in the first vid to figure out best initial placement.

This works really easily and can result in some surprises.   There are times I have found a much better overall solution when looking at it this way vs a story pole and laser on site.   In fact, I now will only work this way when I have to set a critical elevation.


Our surveyor charges aprox 600-800 for a topo.   Cheap considering each foot of foundation is a few grand not couting veneer material.    Setting a home right from the get go it a HUGE step.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Member Statistics

    Total Members
    Most Online
    Newest Member
  • Similar Content

    • By TrimbachDesign
      Hello Chief friends,
      I've been struggling and searching this topic but cannot seem to come up with the information that I am looking for. Basically, I have a sloping site and want to draw the uphill stemwall (top) 2'0" higher than the downhill wall. The floor system will ledger off the uphill wall, and the uphill stemwall top should finish about 2'0" higher than subfloor elevation. Wood wall framing will then be 2'0" shorter on this uphill side. Additionally, I'll be using some retaining walls extending off of the foundation to retain the up hill fill material. 
      I was able to "drag up" the top of the stem walls on the uphill wall to gain this two feet of elevation. However, there are all sorts of issues with wall intersections that I cannot seem to clean up. I think that what I am after is forcing the taller wall to run through, but I can't seem to force that in my foundation drawing or 3d view. There has to be a better way... Also, now the subfloor and some trim is sticking through the stem wall. 
      I'm running x12 on MacOSX. 
      Appreciate any help you all can provide! 

    • By ChiefuserMathews
      Hello, is there a way to display the ceiling elevation (height) on plan view, as we typically show them on architectural drawings?
    • By rfantclt
      Fellow More-experienced CA users,
      I have drawn as-built plans of a house for a renovation/addition project in CA v.12.  I recently received the final survey from the surveyor with property lines, major and minor contours, the building footprint, and other typical survey information.  I imported it from .dwg as a .plan file  with layers for terrain perimeter and terrain, and converted the terrain using the convert tool to make it 3D.  It shows up with terrain. Yay!  Now I'm not sure of the next steps:
      1. How do I bring the terrain into the building.plan?
      2. How do I set it in place - using a Place Point or Point Marker at a corner of the house?
      3. The survey elevations are in the 650' range so how what do I do to place the terrain relative to my house (1st floor 0.0)?  This house has a walk out basement, if that matters.
      4. I copied in a 2D version of the survey to use in plan view (on layer CAD, AS-BUILT SURVEY).  When I send it to layout, the house floor plans are obscured and the secondary contours didn't come in - admittedly, this is a previous version of my survey attempt and I've since remapped the survey layers.
      I have also attached the house plan, if that helps.
      Thanks for recommendations from this group, as I've watched numerous videos and couldn't find any that addressed this process.
      CA Premier X12
      Zoutewelle FINAL SURVEY.plan
      Muhs Existing.plan
    • By thewell
      Does anyone have a site to OBTAIN MORE PLANTS THAN IN THE CHIEF CATALOGS?  I do a lot of landscape design - and really could use MORE PLANTS ...........
      2nd question - EASIEST WAY TO ALTER THE 2D PLANT IMAGE IN COLOR (versus most plant images in 2d are black/white) ... AND STORE THE 2d symbol along with the plant etc
    • By divreig
      I think I am missing something. I want the "Text Below Line" on my Elevation Camera Labels/callouts to show the sheet number. And make this the default. Does any one know how?