Briefs – Getting What You Want



Give yourself the best chance at getting what you want. Learn how to brief your architect to get the best results from your upcoming project with these 5 easy tips:

1. How much do you want to spend?

Understand what you are willing to invest in your project. The way an architect approaches a solution can be very different for different budget scales. We recommend you keep an additional 10-20% of the total budget in reserve, in case there are changes during the project that mean it goes beyond what was originally priced. You might decide you really just can’t compromise and want the expensive tiles, or there might be additional earthworks required that weren’t anticipated at the beginning of the project.

2. How much time do we have?

A shorter timeframe means a shorter design phase. In this case, it’s best to come as prepared as possible, so you can be clear on exactly what you need, and we can finalise the design with fewer changes. Shorter timeframes can also mean higher building costs to get it done on time. If you have a longer timeframe, we can spend a bit more time refining exactly how the design will look, and potentially find more options for your finished product.

3. What do you really need?

Prioritise your needs from your wants to ensure the best functional outcome. Write a list of all of the spaces you need and the basic description of its characteristics. Once you have done that, have a look over your list and consider whether some things might actually be optional and belong more on the wishlist than the needs-list (see point 4)

Here are some examples:

1 x Corporate boardroom: large digital interactive surface, video conferencing, seats 20 people minimum; or,

2 x Children’s Bedrooms: plenty of low storage for toys, soft furnishings safe for 2 small children, adaptable for easy conversion as children grow, must be identical in all but colour; or,

1 x Entertainers kitchen: must seat 8 people comfortably, need minimum of 6m of bench space, easy access to herb garden.

4. Do you have a wishlist?

Not everything will make the ‘Need’ list. Write a separate list where all of your wishes and ideas can be documented. Where appropriate we will try to work them into the project. This will also give us a better idea of what you want out of your design. People who put ‘giant slippery-dip in hallway’ are usually after a different approach to those who list ‘mahogany and leather double-height library’.

5. What’s your style?

This is one of the hardest questions for many clients to answer. Here are our best tips to not only discover your style but to communicate it to your architect:

  • Know where to look. Most people know what they like when they see it. That’s great if you’re seeing a lot of different designs. We live in an amazing era where magazines and online resources give us unlimited exposure to design examples. We recommend Archdaily, Dezeen and Yellow Trace as online starting points. We also live in the era of camera phones, so if you see something you like, take a photo!
  • Keep a scrapbook. This can be a physical book or folder, or it could be something more like a pinterest board. Keep all of your ideas here. If you like it, save it.
  • Keep a pin-board. We recommend putting a pin-board up in your house somewhere you will see it every day. Put your favourite ideas on this board. You will find that as you walk past it every day some ideas will lose their appeal or will start to jar with the rest of the images. Let this process evolve your core style over time.

You may be thinking by now “What do I pay the architect for then?” Yes, an architect can, and will, design you a beautiful project with very minimal input from you stylistically. If that is what you want we are happy to take charge. We do find that the client is happier and prouder of the end result if they take an active role in the brainstorming process. We like to think of it as you bringing us the raw materials we use to assemble an artwork.

Creating the design for your new project is a collaborative and creative process. It is best if you approach the design with many ideas but few preconceptions. The most creative solutions are often the most surprising.

We look forward to realising your next project and unleashing your unique style.