Creating a brief is not something that everyone thinks of when about to build a home or engage any number of experts they may need to create the home of their dreams.
However, creating a brief is a really good exercise to get everyone on the same page, as it captures your vision of how you want to live now, and in the future, and ensures your thoughts and ideas are captured as cohesively as possible.
A brief can be used for your architect, interior designer, landscaper, and so on. Providing a brief allows your team to do their job to their best capacity.
So why create a brief?
Creating a brief puts you ahead of the game in being able to communicate what you’re trying to achieve, and opens up the discussion so that the response to the brief is exactly what you’re after. The old adage of ‘you get out what you put in’ is very true in this instance. Here are three reasons to create a brief;-
- Ensure that the design meets your expectations; your wants, your desires, and the functionality the home has to have. To ensure that the design reflects how you live your life. What elements do you require? What’s your lifestyle, and how does the home have to respond to that?
- It gives you something to refer back to when you’re reviewing the output of the brief, so when you get the plans and concept drawings back, you’re able to cross reference if all the elements of the brief have been met in the concept and design. You can forget points as you go along, so having the brief to compare is a great way to sanity check the design response.
- It creates a dialogue for everyone who’s involved in the project – husband, wife, children, whoever it is. It allows you to engage in discussion to ensure that everyone is included and their requirements are met. What do individuals want out of the home? How do they want particular areas to be? How do they want rooms to work, their interaction with other spaces, and the outdoors? It allows everyone to have input and creates a more comprehensive brief as all the ideas come together and consolidate into one document.
How do you create a brief?
It makes sense to create a brief for each person in your design team, however, I will use an architect as an example here.
Here are three ways to create a brief:
- Visual brief.
Pictures tell a thousand words so creating something visual for someone to look at is ideal. What the pictures normally demonstrate is a pattern of what you really like and gravitate to, and that provides a guide to your architect on the direction they should go down.
Create a portfolio, be that online or offline. Let the pictures speak for you and show what you like. Look at magazines, online resources; make a collage, scrapbook or a Pinterest collection of what you love.
- A written brief.
A great place to start is to follow a template and then add other elements important to you.
Discuss and highlight your lifestyle, what’s important to you in how you live; do you entertain and how often, do you frequently have big gatherings at home, how do you live as a family, are you mainly outside? Do you like having kids play in designated areas? Do you have people stay a lot? Do you want a seamless feel between indoor and outdoor? Do people in the household work from home? Do you need a separate area in the home for meeting with clients? Capture the essence of your lifestyle and how you live, because that will drive the design.
Some of the key areas to have in your written brief would be ‘must haves’ versus ‘nice to haves’. This can be created in a table with a list of essentials – elements you are not prepared to compromise on versus the ‘nice to haves’.
Note down the overall look and feel you’re after, which is also where a visual brief helps too. What type of home would you like? One with clean lines, or something more traditional?
Think about important elements, or key features you would like the house to have. Perhaps you want to have a balcony, a bathroom with a floor-to-ceiling window in the shower that looks out over a garden.
What about sustainable features and what your energy efficiency goals may be? Solar electricity to minimise reliance on the grid? Would you like an airtight house to save on energy costs? Or an underground water tank? An acctedited Passive House (energy neutral).
And finally, budget. Provide an indication of what your budget is. Your architect needs to know this to ensure what they design is within your parameters.
- Briefing session.
Sit down with your architect to run through and discuss the brief. Show them the images you have collated. Walk through what you’ve written down. It’s a document that you can flesh out together, and it creates a foundation for more in-depth conversation about what you’re trying to achieve. It also allows you to ask questions of each other. It’s a valuable opportunity to clarify elements of the brief.
Briefing is an essential step in the process of building your Forever Home. It does take some time to complete, but it allows you to evaluate what’s important and what you really need and want.
You should also request a Return Brief from your architect, and other members of your design team, as this is a summary of their understanding of your brief, and is another way for you to check there is a good comprehension of what you require.
One of the reasons why I use a brief is it allows me to really think about my objectives, what I’m trying to create, and why. I get clarity, which I’m then able to communicate more clearly to someone else.
To help you get started, I’ve created a Briefing Template for you to use for your own project.