How to create a great “design brief” for an architect or builder?


(Pro-tip = “make this a fun activity for the whole family, like planning a family holiday”.)

A design brief is used to clearly convey to the architect and builder some background information on you and your family including how you like to live and entertain and what is important to you in creating a new home.

Try to involve all your family members in writing this design brief and make it fun for everyone to get involved in, (like planning a family holiday overseas!). 

Begin by “brainstorming” and writing down a list of all your thoughts and ideas about the new house. Then start to refine and condense the list and place your ideas into categories or sub-headings.

You should start with an introduction describing your family, pets, your lifestyle and professions.  Include details of your extended family, how often you entertain, what your family does for recreation and relaxation.  This information will help to convey how you use your home and what accommodation you need now and into the future.

Your ideas should be listed room by room and level by level and ranked in order of importance.  The “must have items” should be listed first then grade each item in level of importance as you go through the list.  Also, try to include photos of design ideas that you like that illustrate what you would like to achieve. A brief that includes good pictures is much easier for the architect and builder to follow and interpret.

Also, start a “Pinterest account” for your new house or renovation project, so you can compile a library of photos that you like for both internal and external design features and ideas.  You can then share the link to your Pinterest account with all your design consultants (architect, builder, interior designer, landscape designer etc), so everyone involved gets the same “visual brief”.

Your design brief should be no more than 5 or 6 pages and should be revised at various stages throughout the design and construction process and updated if the scope of works or budget changes.

Below is a list of questions or prompts to help you write your design brief.



  • Briefly describe your family, including pets, professions, schooling and what makes you special.
  • Briefly describe how you live (i.e. sports, hobbies, how you like to entertain and how often, do you travel, do you ever have guests staying with you and do you have any significant equipment to accommodate such as camping equipment, trailer, boat, sports car etc.)?
  • Briefly describe your property and the “big picture” of what you would like to build and create. How long have you owned this property and how long do you intend to stay?      

Style of the house

  • Describe the type of design you like, and any specific design features you would like to include in your new house or renovation.
  • What drew you to this property and this suburb or area?
  • Any specific types of construction? (i.e. concrete slab, timber floor, brick veneer, solid brick, light weight cladding etc.)


Accommodation and Interior

  • Size and type of garage?
  • Number and type of living areas?
  • Dining area, casual, formal, number of chairs?
  • Describe the type of kitchen you want and specific features?
  • Type of pantry and how you want to use it?
  • Size of laundry and specific requirements?
  • Games room, rumpus room, media room, home theatre?
  • Study, home office, library?
  • Mud room, store room, workshop, cellar?
  • Number of bedrooms and sizes?
  • Number of bathrooms and specific features?
  • Master bedroom requirements and design features?
  • Guest bedroom requirements?
  • Type of stairs, voids?
  • Ideal ceiling heights?
  • Any specific electrical system requirements?
  • Any specific heating or cooling requirements?​

Exterior Design

  • Describe how you would like the house to look from the street and any specific exterior design ideas or requirements?
  • Any specific requirements for the entry or front door?
  • Any specific exterior materials you do or do not want to use on the building?
  • Windows – any specific requirements?
  • Alfresco / BBQ area requirements?
  • Swimming pool?
  • Front fence requirements?
  • Describe the type of garden and outdoor spaces you would like and any specific design ideas?

Share this via

Website Security Test