How to: Create a Project Brief

In general, I like to be really prepared for things. For example when I travel, I maintain printed and digital copies of any and all documentation that might even be required. Do you need to see that confirmation for the hotel in Bergen, Norway? Got it. Do you need to know how to potentially cross navigate an Italian train strike? Got it.

So going into my first architect meeting, I came to the conclusion that I was shocking ill-prepared. About an hour before my meeting I googled "how to hire an architect" and learned that the best way to kickoff this dating process was with a project brief. This made perfect sense, I knew in principle what I wanted but really hadn't written anything down.

Here's what to put in your project brief:
  1. Contact information (how can they ask you questions)
  2. Goals (rehab, tear down, small fixes, etc)
  3. General design aesthetic (coastal, modern, traditional, etc)
  4. High-level notes for each area of the property (each floor, garage / yard, kitchen)
  5. Things you love (fireplaces, original details, etc)
  6. Things you don't care about (all en-suite bathrooms)
  7. Date you wrote this all down
The project brief is not the final listing of everything you want - it's supposed to be "brief". So you don't need to say that you want window seats in the 3rd floor bedroom necessarily... but what you could say is that you want 3 bedrooms and that you love nooks (e.g. window seats).

Perhaps the even more important than writing this down is updating as you change your mind. For example, after losing power the other weekend I remembered that I want to make sure I account for having a generator. This is absolutely something the designer / architect needs to know about... and I know that because I asked her.

Here is a sample house design brief based on what I prepared for my meetings. Be sure to print out enough copies for everyone attending the house walkthroughs. Nobody wants to pull up files like this one their phones.
Project Brief Template by jen on Scribd

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