Automatic elevation contouring is wrong


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Hi!  New to the forum--hoping ya'll can help!  I am trying to create a landscape plan in Home Designer Architect 2018 for my land with an existing home.  I have a survey plot plan that has the elevation lines throughout the property and I'm just trying to replicate them.  The land slopes  from the front yard to the back of the back yard (approximately 10' difference over the course of 100') and even more significantly to the right and left of the house (right 8' difference in the ~14' between the house and the fence on either side).  There is a walkout basement in the back.  I've tried placing the elevation with both lines and points and the program is inserting weird bumps and hills in random places.  It also automatically drops the ground several inches all around the house when I place an elevation line.  I should mention that my garage floor is elevation 0'.   Anyone have ideas on how to get this to work?  Thanks!


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See if this article helps you:


Something you need to understand about software, any software, it has no intelligence, no judgment. The end user must supply those. The software only does what it is "told" to do by you, so if you misunderstand a setting, miss a setting, wrongly guess at a setting of which the software has MANY chances to fail and only a narrow band of correct choices will do. I got the above Help Article from the Knowledge Base located at the Home Designer Website.


If you will simply uncheck "Flatten Pad" in the Terrain Specification Dialog should handle the terrain directly next to the house. New users often add too many terrain elevation objects (points, lines, splines etc) making their resulting terrain plane object way too complicated. The more elevation objects used makes it that much harder to evaluate what needs to be edited to smooth things out. I use as few as is possible to gain my intended result.


I will take a look at your plan file and get back to you here.


Never mind, I now see that you attached a PDF of your plan (which is basically useless for anyone wanting to find out anything about your plan, sorry).



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I have a similar lot, except reversed - back to front elevation decline, with very strong slopes on the sides of the house, and a driveway cut into the hill approaching the house from the road., and have experienced similar problems in terms of terrain mapping.


From what I can tell, HD works best with *lots* of information. That's not surprising. Computers make better decisions when then have more information. The problem I've found is getting that information into HD accurately - *for my type of terrain*.


If I had a square lot, and the back was level, except elevated above the level front by 4' - it would be easy to enter a lot of information about my lot. I'd enter two elevation regions and be done with it. Not a lot of data entry, but actually a huge amount of information in that data. I could replicate that with elevation lines, but I would need to enter quite a few of them to get the back and front yards flat. I could also replicate that with elevation points, but I would need even more points than lines.


So, I don't have a square lot. I don't have level areas. This means that I can't really use elevation regions - I need to use lines or points. This is going to mean a lot of measurement and a lot of data entry. Both are places where mistakes can be made - and this what probably I find the most daunting about creating the terrain of my lot in HD.


What I would like to be able to do is create sloped regions that can be sloped in two directions. That would allow me to enter in probably the least amount of data and get a reasonable approximation of what my lot looked like. But without that, I'm probably going to have to enter points - and there seems to be a couple of potential approaches to this project:


1. Map out the yard in a grid and take probably hundreds of elevation points using a dumpy level, and figure out how to import them into HD. This is likely a full weekend project.

2. Use some sort of photogrammetry to capture detailed data, and somehow import that into HD. I don't even know if this is possible, but I'm going to give it a whirl I think.


The shortcoming of these approaches is that once I have the data into my plan, I still have the problem of how to then modify the plan to reflect grading changes in the lot, if those grading changes consist of anything remotely askew.


If there's anyone else out there that has some insight into this process, I'm all ears. There has to be a better way!







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Hi All,


I had to do the same when drawing my new construction house plan a couple of years ago. With a little trial and error, you can get it reasonably close.

I also had a surveyors Topo map for the bare lot, which had the elevation contour lines already sketched in. All I had to do was import the map PDF, scale it, place the north pointer in the proper direction, and then model it with HD Pro. The results just needed a little tweaking to show the existing grades and (expected) finish grades in plan views.   


After the plan was drawn and wall elevation views were created, I adjusted terrain elevation lines to show the grades per above.


Scallypads, you should be able to do this with the plot plan pdf you have. MikeMike, you might be able to obtain a topo map for your area from USGS or a local authority.  If you only have a plot plan on paper, take it to  a blueprint shop, Kinko/Fedex or Office Depot. They might be able to scan it to a PDF file for you. 


First, start with a new blank plan, import your plot plan PDF. 


Scale it by using the program's tape measure to measure a straight line on the perimeter of your lot. Expand/reduce the imported pdf image (grab it's handle at the corners of the image to keep the lot shape proportioned).  Expand/reduce the image until the tape measure agrees with the dimension on the plot plan.  It is now scaled. You should be able to measure a few other points on the plot plan image and they should be very close to the plot plan dimensions. If not, there is a possible problem with the plot plan PDF proportions. Its a good idea to check dimensions in two different directions on the image for accuracy. 


Save this as a   plot_plan_pdf.plan   file for future use, in case you need it again to locate sidewalks, utilities, etc. You are basically saving a plan with only the imported and scaled plot plan PDF on the CAD, Default layer.


Assuming all above is good, Save the file again as   terrain.plan  .   You can create a terrain perimeter by tracing over the plot plan PDF, and then trace the elevation lines and set their elevations, per the plot plan PDF.


Place a couple of CAD points or point markers on two corners of your house as shown on the plot plan PDF to position the lot to house later. Then have a look at the 3D full perspective to see how your terrain looks. Fix any mistakes in the elevations, and tweak the shapes or settings of the elevation lines a little until you get sloping you want/need.  Once you have what you want, save   terrain. plan  again for future use should the need arise. 


When you have the terrain the way you want it, copy and paste terrain, terrain lines, north pointer and cad points into your house plan. Rotate/move the selected terrain, terrain lines north arrow until the two cad points align with the same two corners of the house. Don't worry if they are off a little. If they are off a lot, then there is a problem.


The terrain perimeter will paste into your plan as a polyline object. You should be able to select it and convert it to a terrain perimeter and you should have what you want. If it is not exactly correct, you can adjust it a little using the elevation lines until it is. If HDA does not allow polyline to terrain perimeter conversion,  simply redraw the terrain perimeter by tracing the polyline, then delete the polyline object.


If the lot has any raised area, you'll need to add terrain modifier in the shape to provide the desired result.


There might be a better way to do this but this procedure worked for my needs and permitting;  I'm sure it can provide reasonable results for your needs.


Attached is a pic of a simple example of an irregular shape downward sloping lot to the north-west. It is shaped with simple elevation lines placed throughout.


I hope this helps both of you.


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You need to not hi-jack someone else's thread.  Stick with your original thread to ask questions about your terrain.

Post the plan file (NOT a PDF or jpeg), and use the text tool (on the plan) to show what elevation you want, and where.

Someone might be able to help, then.  Otherwise, it is just goose-guesses.

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Thank you everyone for your help thus far!  Attached is my plan with the terrain perimeter and text boxes showing the contour lines.  These are approximate as I did the best I could placing them where they were on the photo copied survey plot plan I have.  The garage is elevation 0'.  I'm having some trouble uploading the actual pictures. so you can see what I'm working with in reality.  But I will continue to try.

A am VERY new to this software and bought it primarily for landscaping purposes.  I know that there are probably all sorts of rookie mistakes and I would appreciate it if someone wants to point them out, but please don't judge. :)  Thanks!

State Street Landscape Plan Plot Plan.plan

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Why is your ceiling height lower than the door?

Besides that, you did not follow the recommended building suggestions provided by the user guide.  It seems that you considered the terrain perimeter to be at 0", and then set your 1st floor structure, floor (C) to be above it by 28".  I'm not saying you can't do that, but it creates a  mathematical nightmare (particularly with the terrain).  Floor 1 (C) should be set at  0".   The terrain perimeter is then generated, and the sub-floor (in your case)  is set to be 28"  (terrain dbx)  above the terrain (I had to delete your terrain, then recreate it, because it would not behave otherwise).  THEN you can start working with elevation lines and regions, and set them to the numbers indicated on your plot chart.  If you've ever read many posts on this forum, most people (including some moderators) recommend NOT using elevation points.  I used only elevation regions, custom shaped to make the terrain contours follow your plot numbers. The red numbers showing on the terrain contour lines, are the elevations set by the program, in response to each region setting.

 For the most part, you can hardly see most of the elevation changes in a 3D view, unless you zoom in really close. 

State Street Landscape Plan Plot Plan JoAnn.plan

State Street landscape.JPG

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