How to write a design brief for your new home

September 19, 2016

Planning a new house is an exciting stage of life but it also takes a lot of work. First you need to decide on whether to buy a knock-down house and rebuild from scratch, or get a ‘do-up’ and renovate it.

If you are knocking down or doing extensive renovations, chances are you will need to move out while the work is being done on the house. It is never too early to start getting prepared to move out, even if the plans for the new home or renovation are still only in the beginning stages. If you move unwanted rubbish into bulk bins now, it will make the packing up and moving process a lot easier. The last thing you want to be doing is moving clutter from house to house.

You should also get started on doing some work around the yard before the professionals come in. Hire a skip bin and clear out the overgrown shrubs so the tradies have clear access to the house.

If you decide to do a massive renovation or a custom build, then it’s time to really start thinking about what kind of floor plan would suit your lifestyle and meet your needs. Here are some tips for getting some ideas on paper, ready to hand over to your draftsperson or architect:

  • Buy some tracing paper, or just use baking paper from the pantry, and start drawing up some outlines of what you’d like. Sketch in the amount of bedrooms, as well as the general flow of the house so that when the draftsperson takes over to prepare the professional drawings, they will have an idea of what you’d like.
  • If you are renovating, get a floorplan of your existing house and place it under the tracing paper. That way, you can see what floor space you have to play with, and you can start to move rooms around without actually going overboard space wise.
  • If you aren’t a pencil and paper kind of person, there are some funky apps you can use to play around with the layout of your potential new home. Some fun ones to check out are Home Design 3D, MagicPlan and Floor Plan Creator.
  • Look up your local council website and start to get an understanding of what you can and can’t do. This will save you a lot of time in the long run. For example, you don’t want to plan an extension on the side of the house only to find that the external wall is closer to the perimeter fence than what is allowed.

When you are putting the plans together, there are some things to keep in mind that will help you make the most of your new design. Such as emphasising natural light by placing the living areas and the large windows along the north side of the house. Also ensure enough ventilation in the house by having opening windows on either side of each room, so that fresh air can breeze through. Having windows high up are also good for ventilation as you can leave them open for longer in the night time without having to worry about people seeing in.

The brief

Once you have an idea of what you’d like in your new home, it’s time to sit down with a draftsperson or an architect. This is where the important briefing comes in, as you want to be as specific as possible so they can draw the plans up the way you want them. Whatever you tell your draftsperson at this stage, will act as a guide for them as they draw the home of your dreams.

There are some things you can prepare in advance of your meeting with the draftsperson to help the meeting go smoothly and ensure everyone is on the right track. These are:

  • Create a vision board. Trawl through inspiration sites like Pinterest for pictures that show exactly the theme, style and feel you are aiming for. It will be really helpful to do this for different rooms in the house, as well as the outside facade, and the array of colours that you’d like to use.
  • Know how many bedrooms you’d like, and the sizes and requirements of each of them (i.e. double room with a built-in wardrobe etc).
  • Decide on what other things are absolutely essential to you. For example, you may need two living areas, or a large kitchen might be your biggest dream. This is where you get to say the things that you can’t live without.

Once your draftsperson has provided plans you are happy with, it’s time to shop around for a quote from the builders. You should always get a minimum of three quotes for any job. After the quote it is time to apply for DA which can be a lengthy process. But in the meantime you can get the ball rolling by moving your belongings out of the house ready for the builders to come in, and by hiring a skip bin to begin the process of throwing the old things away.