What is a project brief and why is it so important? This is a question I get asked all the time regardless of the size or scale of a project. So, I thought I’d explain why a project brief is vital to your build, and importantly, how having a thorough brief will save you time, headaches and possibly a lot of money.

Now you’ll have to follow me a little with this explanation as there is some interaction required from you. It’s simple and I promise it will make sense at the end.

 

Okay. I want you to imagine in your head (create a visual) of a:

1. Tall male.

2. With blonde hair.

3. Wearing a short-sleeved top, pants and belt.

4. Laced up shoes.

5. Holding a black bag with handles.

6. He’s wearing a gold watch.

 

Take a few moments to conjure up the image as clearly as you can. Ok, ready? Do you have the image in your head? Now if you were to ask your partner, housemate or a friend to do the very same thing and we took the images you both created and turned them into pictures or drawings, I can guarantee that they would probably look very different. Even though you had all been given the same instructions!

 


So let’s take a look at what happened and break this down to each item of detail I asked.

1. Tall male.

What is tall? My son is 6’4, so in our house, anything over 6’5 is considered tall. Yet my best friend who is 5’5 thinks 6’ is in the giant category. Is 7’ what you consider tall? What is tall in your household?

2. Blonde hair.

What shade of blonde were you thinking? Dark blond, ash blond, strawberry blond, golden blond, blond highlights? Did you conjure up a long hairstyle, short-cropped, an undercut, curly or maybe even dreadlocks?

3. Wearing a short-sleeved top, pants and belt.

I’m a coastal person, with water never far from my mind, so I thought of a Hawaiian style top, casual cargo pants and a simple belt. Maybe you pictured a more conservative outfit with a polo shirt. Did you think of labels? What colours did you think of? Was the belt simple, wide or a good ole’ cowboy buckle belt? Were the pants with or without pockets? Perhaps cargo pants are on your mind or a pants suit?

4. Laced up shoes.

Were they sneakers, casual shoes or dress shoes? Did they have stripes? Were they a labelled style? Possible they might have been boots. What type of boots?

5. Holding a black bag with handles.

In my mind, I was thinking about a black backpack style bag. What about you? Was yours a briefcase, suitcase, backpack, doctors bag? Was it large or small? What detail (if any) did it have?

6. He’s wearing a gold watch.

Now, who thought of a Rolex? Or was it a diving watch? Was the watch a round, square or oval style? Was it analogue or digital? Which wrist was it on? Are you thinking left or right hand?

I think you know where I am going with this, so now let me explain how this relates to the importance of a project brief. From this simple experiment, you can see that all that you have experienced, seen, trialled, know, lived through, learnt and been shown over the course of your life to date has a massive impact on how you create a picture in your head.

 


Now let’s think about your reno or building project…

 

You will no doubt have a picture in your mind as to what you want your final room or house to look like, whether it’s your kitchen, laundry, bathroom, a whole wing of the house or even a brand-new property. Now how do you explain that image and convey the details to ensure that the team you will work with to create the reno or build, have the same outcome in mind?

The answer is similar as with the above example. Only by asking the right questions can you tease out what the end result should look and feel like. The point of asking not just questions, but indeed the right questions, is to clarify and tease out the precise details of what it is you’re trying to create.

Over my years in the construction industry, one thing I constantly observe is that people either don’t know the questions to ask and/or don’t ask the right questions. As you can see from the above visualisation exercise, there is so much more detail that can be obtained if only you ask the right questions.

So, as the customer how do you get someone to create or build a bathroom, kitchen, laundry, extension or house if you are not able to fully articulate in detail what exactly it is you are after? The answer lies in a Project Brief.

I can’t stress enough the importance in investing time and effort upfront to get your project brief right and as clear as possible BEFORE you even start talking to your designer, architect, builder or trades!

Read our blog on the 7 essential reasons for creating your project brief to find out how to get started for your reno or building project.

Written by Justine Teggelove, Co-Founder of Build in Common,
Director, co-founder and previous CEO of Rodine Australia,
a commercial construction company with a national portfolio

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