When you have identified your vision, values, resources, the next step is to identify all the factors that may enhance or obstruct your long-term goals. These are called Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (or SWOT for short).  

To help with the speed and accuracy of completing a SWOT analysis for something as complex as an acreage or farm, we have identified 11 property factors that are sure to uncover any problems or advantages that might be right beneath your nose:

The 11 factors that we analyze are:


Energy Cycle, brittleness, analogues, weather patterns.


Successional Cycle, geomorphology, economy, land-use by-law.


Water Cycle, supply, demand, storages, wastewater.


High grade, farm tracks, footpaths.


Homes, barns, outbuildings, energy systems, utilities.


Wild, domesticated, perennial, biennial, annual.


Subdivisions, perimeter, alleyways, flexible, corrals.


Wild, domesticated, aquatic, terrestrial.


Resource conversion, product conversion, marketing.

10. Technology

Tractors, vehicles, implements, physical tools, energy systems.

11. SOIL

Nutrient Cycle, biological, physical, mineral.

These factors are listed in order of relative importance – i.e., how much they can impact your use of the land, and how hard they are to change or influence.

Warning:   Over and over again, we see land owners and designers try to skip most of these factors and focusing on a few in the wrong order of operation. It’s an omission that could potentially lead to disaster! 

So…start at Factor 1. Climate, and work your way through the 11 factors in the order we’ve presented.

The Adaptive Habitat Tool

For Google Earth Pro

This can be a challenging if you’re working from unknown or guesstimated data. To make the process as easy and exact as possible, we built a data management tool that embeds directly within Google Earth Pro and contains your workflow and process step-by-step. Transposed overtop a property map, it provides queues and prompts to ensure that you don’t miss anything.

The best part of this tool is that if you follow it exactly, your land will practically design itself.

If you haven’t already, download your copy of the Basic Version of the Adaptive Habitat tool in the first lesson. The Pro Version of our tool is only available in the Guided & Guanranteed Program.

Performing a SWOT Analysis

Strengths and Weaknesses represent internal risks and opportunities you can control, while Opportunities and Threats represent external factors that you cannot significantly influence.

The goal with performing a SWOT analysis is  four-fold:

Enhance your strengths to increase resilience, profit, and enjoyment

Transform your weaknesses into strengths or make them irrelevant through good design.

Take advantage of bioregional opportunities to improve profitability, reduce labour, improve happiness and resilience.

Acknowledge external threats so you can plan contingencies to reduce or eliminate them, or else change the property if they are too extreme.

These sound like simple and obvious first steps, right? Surprisingly, the reality is that virtually no one does this.

This is why homes and roads are built in the wrong places, preventable disasters blindside unsuspecting landowners, farm businesses are operated unprofitably and land turns from an asset to a liability.


Once you complete your SWOT, your goal is to identify any incongruencies between your values and vision (from Step 1) and the SWOT analysis of your property.

If there are incongruencies, you have two options: to change your values and vision, or else to change the property.

Ignoring this will lead to misery!


  • In the AH Tool toggle open the “Step Two: Diagnose” by clicking on the triangle icon to the left of the folder icon. Once this folder is expanded toggle open the “Climate” Folder
  • Click the folder icon beside the “Summary and SWOT Diagnosis” folder to open. Read the summary then complete the exercise for your property. Remember To edit this (and any other folder in the AH Tool right click the folder and select “Get Info” for Apple computers or “Get Properties” for PC computers. This will allow you to add in your text directly to the exercise books for future reference!
  • Repeat the step above for each of the 11 factors!
  • You can also download the SWOT Analysis worksheet here and complete a SWOT analysis for each of the eleven factors for your property.
  • Review your values and vision statements from Step 1 to see if they align. If they do, move on to Step 3, Design. If they do not, either revise your values and vision or sell your property (sound harsh? Believe us, the pain of doing this is far less than the pain of forcing the land to do what is not naturally capable of doing, for years upon years!)

Stay tuned! Next we’ll be sharing our top three design tools that we use in the design of resilient homes, acreage and farms.



Rob & Takota

p.s. If you missed our first email, about the importance of having a process, you can get caught up here. Our second lesson, about clarifying your vision, values and resources can be found here.

p.p.s. We love guiding people through process on a one on one basis as well as in a group scenario. If you are looking to fast track your property design check out our Guided & Guaranteed Option and get started today.


Start typing and press Enter to search