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The Brief

The quality of your finished building will reflect the quality of your brief. This is the key document defining your vision of the finished building, and also of how the project will be managed. For your architect, it is the central reference point that will guide the direction they take and the services they provide. 

Your brief should be clear and unambiguous and it should enshrine a common understanding between you and your architect. Seek their help in formulating the brief. The process may involve a number of discussions and help to establish the dialogue between you that the project needs. Some architects may charge for the consultation but others will be happy to advise you without charge on the understanding that you are going to appoint them as architect for the project. The project brief should describe:

  • The functions of the finished project: who will use it, and for what? Have you visualised how these activities will be accommodated and provided for in the new space(s)?

  • Your motivations and expectations: what do you hope to achieve by this project, in the short and long term, for yourself and others?

  • A design direction: contrasting or in keeping with existing buildings? Contemporary or traditional? Are there certain materials, fixtures or finishes you favour? Is sustainability an issue for you?

  • Authority for decision-making: who will sign off decisions about design, about costs and about day-to-day matters on-site?

  • Timetables and budgets: when should key stages be completed, how much should they cost, and how will they be financed?

A good, thorough brief will form the basis of the professional agreement you sign with your architect. Clarity on services, costs, timings and procedures is vital to the relationship.