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Want to know how to write an architectural brief? In this blog we give our 5 top tips to help you create your dream home.

The Importance of the Architectural Brief

Architectural briefs are the key to making sure your building project is a success!

Get it right and you’ll have the home you’ve always dreamed about. Get it wrong and you can waste an awful lot of time and money – and get an inferior result.

Writing an architectural brief isn’t just about telling your design team what size extension you want – it’s much more than that. There are a lot of other things to consider when briefing your architect to ensure you not only get the best result, but that you keep to your budget too.

5 Tips to Writing an Architectural Brief

Before we explain how best to brief your architect you must decide on your construction budget. For more information read our blog House Extension Costs – 5 steps to set your Construction Budget.

1. Writing an Architectural Brief – Be Open

The first thing to note is to try not to be too prescriptive in the way you brief your architectural design team.

Don’t just focus on the solution by just telling them what to draw up! Try to make it more of two-way conversation. Giving your architect a clear but open brief will mean you’ll benefit from their experience. You may also find that the designs they come up with are a huge improvement on what you originally had in mind.

2. Writing an Architectural Brief – Talk About Yourself, and Your Home

Talk to your architect about your family, and your lifestyle. Let them get to know you a little. Describe what you like about your home – and how you use the different rooms and live in the space. For exampe most of us don’t just use our dining tables for meals. We might also sit at them when we work from home, or our children use the space for their school homework.

Consider all of the different aspects of your property, for example:

  • Is it light enough – or are there dark corners you never use?
  • Does it overheat in the summer months or have cold spots in winter?
  • Is there enough storage space to hide or display your belongings?
  • Is noise an issue – either within the home or from the outside?
  • Are there any areas you don’t currently use?
  • Does the way you use your spaces change through the day or at weekends?

By sharing this information you will help the design process and change the outcome. For example, you might find that rather than building a huge double storey extension you could achieve what you’re looking for by adding a more modest extension while reconfiguring the existing space.

3. Writing an Architectural Brief – Share What You are Hoping to Achieve

Explain what you’re hoping to achieve and how you’d like to live in your newly improved home. Discuss outside spaces too. Consider the orientation of your plot. Where does the sun rise and set? This might have an important impact on what outside seating and recreational spaces would might want to create for BBQ areas or quiet spaces to sit and reflect.

How you would like to use your garden? Mention any hobbies you enjoy that could be relevant. Do you have dogs or young children whose needs should be considered?

If you have any particular must-have elements that must be included or borne in mind, then make sure you highlight these upfront. This could be anything from being able to adapt and open up the space to host large family events – or improving the accessibility within the home or into the garden for elderly relatives.

4. Writing an Architectural Brief – Don’t Forget Energy Efficiency

It’s a little known fact that 15 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions come from our homes. It therefore follows that we should all be focussed on improving the energy performance of our homes.

The best time to carry out these kinds of improvements is when carrying out building works, but unfortunately not all architects (or builders) will prompt you to make sure that you build your home with sustainability in mind! Unless you brief them otherwise, many will just design to meet the UK’s current building regulations. But the existing regulations fall significantly below that of many of our European neighbours. They will not deliver on the government’s carbon performance ambitions and they will not help you create a high quality, future-proof home. In essence you should think of building regulations as ‘the worst standard of home you can legally build’.

However, improving your home’s energy efficiency can be a difficult process. With this in mind it makes sense that you get some independent advice on how you can improve the energy performaance of your home at the same time as you carry out your improvements. It’s very likely that your project should include adding extra insulation and improving the air-tightness of your home. Likewise, if your existing heating system is relatively old or if you are extending your property, your boiler or radiators may well need to be replaced.

Start by considering how comfortable your home is:

  • Is it draughty?
  • Are there cold spots in the winter?
  • Are there places which are uncomfortably warm in the summer?
  • What about your running costs? Are they very high?
  • Do you have enough hot water, whenever you need it?
  • What is your attitude towards the environment?
  • Are you interested in investing money in green technologies now to save money later?

Get an independent energy efficiency and heating expert, such as CLPM involved to help you and your architect to determine the best solution for your needs and budget.

5. Writing an Architectural Brief – Share your Construction Budget

Once you have established what you have to spend – your construction budget –  it’s time to share your budget assumptions with your architect.

Make sure they understand what needs to be included in these sums. For example, VAT. Likewise highlight any additional costs to bear in mind – for example if you’re planning a highly efficient home with triple glazing and renewable technologies or want to install expensive items such as a feature staircase or a hand-built kitchen.

We hope you have found this blog on how best to go about writing an Architectural Brief useful.

If you’d like to understand more about how to we can help make your home more energy efficient then we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch by calling 01923 896550, email us at or complete a contact form.

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Our Construction Project Management and Quantity Surveying Services cover London, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, and West Sussex. We provide Energy Efficiency and Heating System Advice across the UK.
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