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5 tips for writing a design brief

05 Apr 2019

Posted in:  First Time Buyer and Self Builder

How to dream your self-build into reality: 5 tips for writing a design brief

For most people, building your own home is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s your chance to design your home however you want as you’re in charge of exactly how it will look and feel.

But after the initial feeling of being like a kid in a sweetshop, you may start to realise it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. If everything goes right, that’s great. But if everything starts to go wrong, it’s all on your head too.

At EBS, we’ve helped more self-builders than we can remember

One of the best tips we can give anyone building their own house is to get a design brief ready before you go to your architect. It’s the perfect way to get your thoughts down on paper and it can set you on the right path from the very beginning. Read our five tips below to discover how to write a design brief that works.

1. Pick out what you don’t like about your current home

Whether you’re designing a property in the city centre or a spare bedroom at home, you should have a good idea of things you don’t like. These dislikes include everything from having no downstairs loo or the fact that you can’t put on the washing machine at night because the vibrations go through the walls.

Think practical, but think design too. Often, it can be easier to design to the ‘don’t-wants’, as you can quickly weed out all kinds of options.

Write them all down so you can tell the architect and builder about any design requirements you have.

2. What future style do you want?

If you’re the kind of person who has spent their whole life dreaming about Danish minimalism, you’ll fly through your brief. Open plan and minimalist – simple.

However, you might be coming from the opposite end of the spectrum with only vague ideas about what you want. Either way, everyone has a sense of what they like. It could be a friend’s house or apartment or even something you’ve seen in a magazine – so put together a mood board and add it to the brief.

The more information the better!

3. Describe your lifestyle

Defining your lifestyle can be tricky – and it can change during the course of your life. If you’re planning on having kids, the contemporary house you’d like right now may not be too practical down the line.

Similarly, if your children are nearing college age and you’re going to be an empty nester, you might be able to go for something edgier (your suede furniture won’t be getting stained with sticky little hands!).

Similarly, if you are the hub of your extended family and everyone congregates on your patch at Christmas, New Year, and every other celebration, you’ll need a decent entertaining area. Have a good think and put the details into your brief.

4. Consider your accessibility needs

You want your house to be as welcoming as you can make it, so it’s important to consider whether anyone in your family has special needs. It can even mean deciding if an elderly relative will come to stay with you in the future.

Allowing for accessibility includes installing ramps to the entrance and no stairs or level drops. It can also mean installing a lift or at the very least, a chairlift, to enable upstairs access.

5. Remember your surroundings

If you’re building on a site, make sure to single out any views you want featured in your house – for example: French doors, a lake in the distance, or a sun-soaked porch.

The opposite also applies. There might be something you dislike about your site. It might overlook a neighbour’s property or a field that floods every winter. You might not like it but your architect won’t know unless you tell them!

Follow the five steps above and you’ll have a solid plan written down. Your architect will be able to take the info and feed it back into a design you’ll love.

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The content of this blog is expressed in broad terms and is limited to general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice to address issues arising in specific contexts and not seek to rely on the information in this blog which does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by EBS d.a.c.

EBS d.a.c. neither accepts nor assumes any responsibility in relation to the contents of this blog and excludes all warranties, undertakings and representations (either express or implied) to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law.

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