How to write a brief

Open honest communication is key to creating a successful brief and establishing a good working relationship with us as your architects.  With this brief we start to understand your expectations, your likes and dislikes, your wants and needs, and style of design to accommodate your particular lifestyle.  Below is a list of aspects to consider that might be helpful to you when putting your brief together.

Site Details

What are your likes and dislikes regarding this site? What were the special features that convinced you to buy the site? Describe its relationship to the summer and winter sun.  Which trees must stay and which can be removed? Describe the views and their importance to you. What do you want to see, and what do you want to exclude from your view? Are there important views from other parts of the site? What are the prevailing wind considerations?See NIWA data to help you. Are there neighbours and privacy issues to consider? Please provide any relevant information, copy of certificate of title, site plan, contour / survey plan that you may have.

Outdoor Spaces

If we are also designing the outdoor spaces such as paths, gardens, food forests, ponds and orchards, we will need extra site information.  This will be discussed at our first site visit.


Number of occupants, ages, any special needs, zoning of spaces, separation of people, functions and pets.

Space Requirements & Relationships

Consider the number of floors, number of rooms, spaces, and description of use.  Include outdoor spaces.  Describe the relationship of rooms.  Consider privacy and connections between spaces.

Design Objectives

Describe features of importance to you, e.g.: indoor / outdoor flow, morning sun, shelter from wind, views, private spaces, open plan.


Describe your lifestyle, e.g. is it casual, relaxed, active, elegant, formal? Do you need spaces to entertain at home – indoor and outdoor?  What type of home entertainment do you want to include e.g. music, television, movie projector, areas for storage of equipment.  What method of heating do you want?

Special Requirements

List any special requirements you have, e.g. accessibility, extra storage areas, garage loft space, built in furniture / shelving, pool, exterior fireplace, lifts, home office.

Style Influences

Describe the feeling you require in your project, e.g.: bold, low-key, industrial, traditional, minimalist, contemporary, organic.Describe spaces, materials, design features and styles that appeal to you. If it helps, attach photographs /magazine clippings.


List design styles you dislike and materials you do not wish to see in your project.

Project Programme Stages

The project will progress through each of these stages in progression.  The length of time on each of these stages depends on the size of the project.

1. Brief

2. Site analysis and measure up.

3. Preliminary (Concept) design.

4. Developed design. Resource Consent if required.

5. Detailed Design (Construction Drawings and Specification).

6. Building Consent and Tendering/Negotiating.

7. Construction

Identify key target dates that are important to you.  What is your expected commencement timing of the project?


It is important we have a clear understanding of your expectations and proposed investments.  Consider your budget for each category listed below.

  • Budget for construction (including GST)
  • Budget for site works such as driveway, utilities, water tanks, waste water treatment system (including GST)
  • Budget for landscaping and gardens, if any (including GST)
  • Budget for interior design, if any (including GST)
  • Budget for furnishings and appliances (including GST)
  • Allowances for fees including council fees and consultants fees (including GST)


Our Projects

From new homes to a brewery, we’ve designed beautiful & low-impact spaces for clients with all types of visions & budgets. Learn more→


We design our buildings & sites using permaculture principals - working with nature to create comfortable & self-sustaining spaces. Learn more→