Permaculture Q&A Series – Charging Clients

q&a-charging clients
Recently I received an inquiry about the article I wrote titled: What Should I Charge as a Permaculture Design Consultant? and found our dialog to be potentially very useful to permaculturist in general and decided to share our commentary here.
Hi Nicholas

I’ve just completed my PDC through Geoff Lawton, and am currently working on transitioning from my Project Planning & Scheduling career in the oil & gas industry to a Permaculture Designer and Consultant.

I have already incorporated, and have done a few designs for friends and family for free ranging from small urban lots to 10 acres. I’m now looking to begin charging for my designs, and I’m wondering if you could provide me with a little mentoring.
Thank you
Hi NEW PERMIE, Thank you for reading my article, means a lot to me. What are your questions? I will be happy to help if I possibly can.


No problem, thank you for writing the article!

I guess my first question would be when / how do you start billing a client? I understand your rates, and the estimated time on site, etc. I’m curious at what point you would start charging that rate.

Do you give free quotes I guess is what I’m asking. Would you survey the property and then tell them how much roughly to do a design if they choose to go with you or do you start billing from the moment you step foot on site?

Also what is a good ‘starting’ rate? You say you have quite a bit of experience behind you now, and bill at $150. Well for someone who maybe has a little less experience what would you recommend as a starting rate?

Thanks for the help 
Your welcome NEW PERMIE, When to start charging is dependent on client’s location. If they are in my vicinity then travel to and fro are of no charge. Or if they are 2 hours or more away I try to schedule multiple consultations all in the same trip and make a 2-5 day trip to do all of them at once so not one person has to flip the bill for travel expenses. Which occur the moment we leave the house. Those travel hours are billed at a lower rate…
Starting rates are an interesting topic. A little more background on how I did it. I made sure I had some experience, hands on, different climate experience, and some honest hard work “know how” behind me before I started charging. Today I recommend my students to start at $75 per hour after they do 5-10 designs for free to build their portfolios and make some learned and needed mistakes. Mistakes are good regardless of what people say. Just make sure you fix them for the client and leave them in a place where they have nothing but goodness to say about you. Under sell over deliver. Hope that helps and congrats on your Pdc graduation! Nicholas


Yes this helps a lot!!! Thank you very much 🙂
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(Due to the high volume of requests, we cannot guarantee we will get back with every inquiry. However we are willing and will do our best. Your inquiry may also appear on our Q&A series online.)
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