Plans showing proposed building in Chester

Briefing your architect: the do’s and don’ts.

Posted on 12/04/23

You may have been thinking of making changes to the design of your home for years. Or perhaps you have always dreamed of building your own home. At some point, if you want to turn those dreams into reality, you need to sit down with an architect and find out what’s possible. Importantly, you need to be clear from the start what your budget is so that your project remains affordable.

Create a scrapbook of ideas for your house design

A good architect will want to spend some time talking to you so that they can get a good understanding of your design likes and dislikes. Unless you have a design background and you are happy to sketch out some ideas for your design, you may find it helpful to gather together a scrap book of ideas and inspiration. This can be a physical book or online platforms, such as Pinterest, can be really useful for doing this. You can create a mood board, with examples of designs that you like. This is a really good way of showing your architect what sort of things you have in mind.

Remember, your architect is not a mind reader. You need to tell them what you want so that they can explain the cost implications and the practicalities of the project to you. By providing information to your architect on your aspirations and preferences, they will be able to come up with creative and inspiring design ideas that meet your requirements.  

Whether you are making substantial changes to your existing home or building a completely new one, it’s important to make sure that it will function properly, so your architect will want to ‘walk you through’ the rooms so you understand the proposed flow of the home. For example, how will one room lead to another? Is the kitchen in the most practical place, with easy access to the rear garden?

How to avoid costly delays and changes

Once you have seen some initial design ideas from your architect, they will proceed to detailed drawings. It is essential to understand making changes later on will take up time and lead to more expense, so it’s really important to be sure you are happy before proceeding.

Our Passivhaus expert, Matt Davenport, says,

“Architects are definitely a varied group of people, but one thing I think we all have in common is that we love designing beautiful spaces that our clients can enjoy for years to come. The other thing we probably all have in common is finding indecisive people the most challenging type of client!

“All architects occasionally have clients who can be a little indecisive and may keep changing their minds about what they want. It’s really important before embarking on a project to understand that changing things, either soon after the design has been agreed and fixed or later, once construction has started, will have implications on any or all of cost (usually increased), time (usually leading to delays) or quality, as either costs have to be controlled, or changes have to be accommodated within the larger design ethos. Don’t forget too, that once planning permission has been granted, any substantial changes to the design will have to be re-submitted for planning approval.”

Finding the right architect for you, and working with them, will always lead to a better design and end solution for your project. Talk to our team to find out how one of our qualified architects and designers can help you.

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