The 2014 Tasmanian architecture awards, held at MONA

Architects – The First Date (part two)

Brad Wheelerby author page

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Talking about needs and desires

In my last column we talked about how an architect talks about budget and some basic steps on managing the financial aspects of your new home or extension. This month we are going to look at the more exciting part of your ‘architectural first date’ – what you want to build.


An architect will normally call this ‘project scope’ or ‘the client brief’ but, essentially, it is the basic list of your needs and desires for your home.


I have had all sorts of different briefing meetings, from one where the client just said “surprise me” through to incredibly detailed, ‘down to the last door knob’, 100-page note books, so a couple of main points:

Have you already designed it?

If you are 100 per cent certain of everything you want, down to knowing what the floor plan and the outside of the house need to look like exactly, and you just want the architect to draw it up, chances are you don’t need an architect; a building designer or draftsperson is likely to be more suited to your needs. An architect will design a home to meet your wishes but, generally, will be most useful to you because of their ability to bring new ideas to the table, which suit you individually.

How much detail?

This is tricky. You will probably have been thinking about this for some time and already have a fair bit of detail in your head. However, your architect has not and, generally, your first briefing meeting should be a summary of the rooms and spaces you need and the things that are important to you. Give the architect all your detailed thinking if you like but you cannot assume it is all taken in during that first meeting and there will be a time for that further down the track.


Finally, be honest about what you like and don’t like, show pictures if that helps or explain how you and your family like to live during the week and on weekends. Your architect will ask the questions he or she needs to have answers for and there will be plenty of time to work through issues during the design phase.


A word of warning – it is quite possible that this meeting may uncover a difference between your desires and your budget – this is something that will need to be worked through pretty quickly as discussed in last month’s column.


If they haven’t already, your architect is now going to see where you want to build so, in my next column, we will talk through taking your architect back to your place.


Brad Wheeler is the President of the Tasmanian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects


This article was previously published in The Mercury and appears with the permission of the author


Disclaimer: Any advice contained within this blog is of a general nature only and cannot be relied upon. Details provided are in good faith and relate specifically to this project. Any author will not be held responsible for advice or information presented.

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