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Planning your renovation: how to brief an architect or building designer

posted: 09/Jun/2015

It has been suggested that I am slightly anal.

This outlandish claim was made after I wrote a list for a new cleaner describing how each room and item of furniture should be cleaned.  Apparently cross-tabulating the list with appropriate cleaning products to use was where I crossed the line... 

To me this list just made good sense. Ensuring a job is done right the first time is easier than correcting mistakes down the track.

Consequently it will be no surprise to you that I took the job of briefing our designer, outlining what we wanted to achieve in our renovation, extremely seriously.   Having never written this type of brief before I wasn't sure what to include, so turning to my friend Google I asked "how to brief an architect" and "architect brief template". This research delivered lots of ideas and questions to consider when putting the brief together.

I also spent many pleasurable hours looking at house porn; Australian House & Garden, Inside Out, Home Beautiful and the hottest of all Architectural Digest.  I salivated over the dreamlike images, ripping and tearing out pages, slapping glue on the pretty pictures to create a scrapbook of visuals to stimulate our thinking.

The end product?  I produced the brief (which is pretty long) using the following headings.

  • Who are we, what are we like & what do we like?
  • What is our house like now and what do we like about it?
  • What don’t we like?
  • What we would like done: Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3 
  • What are our priorities, must haves, would be nice to have...
  • In a perfect world the house would have...
  • What are our must haves...
  • Would be nice to haves...
  • What what we envisage each room to include where possible: Kitchen / Family room, Laundry, Outdoor area, Main Bedroom, Garage

We sent the brief to our designer, before he came over to view the house a.  He said he hadn't received such a detailed brief before. Had I crossed that line again?  Apparently not! He said the brief helped him understand our goals before he even crossed our threshold.  It would also avoid him having to drag information out of us and providing a greater insight into what our goals are.  In fact he had never received such a detailed brief before and was extremely pleased to receive it. It would help him get the design right upfront.

So perhaps there nothing wrong with being so anal after all!!  And who wants brief briefs after all - they just aren't a good fit.

Clarissa Brandt

Communications Mangaer, Timber Queensland


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