Building a Home? Discover What to Include in Your Architectural Brief for Optimal Results

You’ve engaged an architect and it’s time to create your brief for your new home. There are the practical details, such as rooms and budget, but what other aspects do you need to think about or that you might not have considered? This article will help you create a brief, and enrich it beyond rooms and budget. 

First, what is a brief? The brief outlines the scope of work for an architect, and is also a vital part of how we get to know you and how you want to live. It tells us a lot about each member of your family and their needs, lifestyle and aspirations. It details what you want to achieve, guides the concept design and becomes a record, or blueprint, to refer to throughout the project.

We send our clients a comprehensive questionnaire to help them develop their brief. They’ll write paragraph answers, bulleted lists, share Pinterest boards, send images, sketch ideas or write essays. The more clients share, the better, because the more we know about you and how you want to live, the more successful and seamless the result.

Based on our years in practice, these are the six important aspects we encourage our clients to think about when creating their briefs.  

  1. Be pragmatic

A brief typically starts with outlining the proposed project. Are you renovating or extending an existing home or building a new house? Describe the house, site and location, and what you love or dislike about it. Also, describe who will be living there, anyone else who needs to be considered, and what rooms or spaces you want to create or improve.


  1. Think about your lifestyle

We often renovate or build houses to better suit our lifestyle. Think about how you want to live in your future home, including what your typical day and night look like, and where family members like to spend their time and why. What does everyone do for entertainment or relaxation, and does anyone work or exercise from home?

As you move through the house on a daily basis, pay attention to the small things that make – or could make – your life convenient. For example, where your keys are kept; where your phone charges; where the kids leave their shoes and bags when they walk in the door. These small things may seem insignificant at the start of a project, but the more an architect knows, the better they can create a house tailored to how you live.

  1. Explore the feeling of home

Start to dig deeper and reflect on what home means to you and how you want to feel in your new house. You might want to feel relaxed, energised, cosy, protected. Different rooms or spaces may have different qualities and feelings, such as a sociable kitchen versus an intimate family room.

Also, think about what inspires you or that feels special to you. Are there childhood memories or nostalgia that you want to capture in your home in some way? Do you have treasured objects or heirloom furniture? Are there hotels that you’ve loved? Learning more about you helps an architect design a home that not only meets your functional needs but will also feel meaningful and enrich your life.

  1. Envision your new home

Imagine your future home and if it has a particular aesthetic or style, or materials and colours. If you have images for inspiration, think about what you like about the images and what resonates with you. Beyond the look of your home, include any considerations or requirements for sustainability, maintenance or accessibility.

  1. Dream big

You’ll likely have a list of non-negotiables and negotiables, which helps an architect work out the priorities for your home. You can also compile a wish list – things that you’d love, even if you think it’s not possible. An architect may not be able to make it all come true but it’s still helpful for learning more about you.

  1. The practicalities

No brief is complete without your budget and desired timeframe. Your total project budget will include the construction cost and all other costs relating to the project, including architect, consultant and professional fees; application fees; removal costs; plus more. We recommend that it factors in a contingency sum for unforeseen expenses as the project proceeds. For your timeframe, note if there are time requirements or restrictions for the completion of your project. An architect will be able to advise what is feasible for your budget, timeframe and vision. 

Another important, but often overlooked question is how involved in the project you want to be, as this helps set the expectation for you and your architect.

At AGA, we believe that undertaking an architectural project shouldn’t be intimidating. Rather it’s a life-changing adventure. Everyone can write a brief for an architect, and thinking about the six aspects we’ve mentioned above will set you and your architect on the right path for creating your future home – and life.


Amos Goldreich

Amos Goldreich Architecture is an award-winning architecture practice led by Amos Goldreich. We deliver full architectural services in close collaboration with our clients and end users, to create buildings and places which have a positive impact on people’s lives and are a joy to experience. For us, architecture is about people and so our work is always delivered with an acute sense of empathy and pragmatism. Much of our work has a strong humanitarian focus – we are always aware of the positive and progressive values that buildings can deliver to people and communities.

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