Home Remodeling: Writing a Brief for Your Contractor
By Jacquelyn Nause
Communication and planning are key when hiring out a project as important as a home remodel. While it can be tedious to create a detailed project plan, doing so will help reduce issues and mistakes along the way.
Planning should take time, and extra care needs to be taken to ensure your expectations are clear to your contractor. Any misunderstanding could lead to a big difference between what you thought you were getting and what is delivered. Creating a thorough design brief helps set you up for a successful remodel. But how do you get started?
What Is a Design Brief?
Basically, a brief outlines the work to be done including timelines, budget, scope of work and other specifics. More than just a picture or wish list, it covers every aspect of the project, including appearance, measurements, construction materials, cost and more. To ensure a successful outcome and smooth process, it is important to make the brief as detailed and clear as possible.
A brief outlines the details of the design components of the project as well as the technical aspects. It includes elements like aesthetic features, examples of inspiration and an overview of the steps involved. Because there is a lot of room for misunderstanding when discussing creative or aesthetic ideas, it is important to be sure all parties involved are clear on the expectations.
When starting to create your brief, think critically about how you inhabit your space. Ask yourself these questions:
- What do you like about your current setup and why?
- What would you improve about the size, flow or other functionality of the space?
- What rooms do you spend time in the most and what activities do you do in those spaces?
- What are some future lifestyle changes that may impact the space?
Compile a list of ideas including practical needs and wants. Also, consider storage and furniture and the space required for your possessions.
When adding or changing a room, consider its relationship to the existing home. For example, when adding a bathroom think about windows, ventilation and size. Perhaps you want specific features such as a soaking tub or dressing area. Be cognizant of safety and access to existing plumbing and electric also.
In addition to the practical considerations, think about aesthetics and sensory qualities of the space. It is often helpful to create an inspiration board of images. When gathering inspiration, zero in on what it is about each image that attracts you to it. It could be the materials, a particular shape or something less tangible like a sense of comfort. Whatever it is, write it down.
By focusing on the feel and mood that you want to create, you can get an idea of how it will complement the rest of the home. Now it is time to refine the design, ensuring that it will not only look and feel how you want but also be practical and functional.
You should now have an idea of the specifics of each room. Take a step back and think about the whole project and establish a clear list of goals. This could be related to budget, ongoing maintenance, future lifestyle changes or environmental goals like solar energy or reduced water usage.
Next, make a plan for the process and scope of work for your home remodel. Think about the expected timeline and budget. Warning: What you want and what you are able to afford can often be quite different. Work with your contractor to assess the condition of your home; older homes may yield hidden costs once work begins. Also, make sure to inquire on the cost of necessary permits.
Map out the schedule, as well as any necessary accommodations related to storage or living arrangements. Once completed, take the time to clearly communicate all of your expectations to your contractor. Make sure you are on the same page to reduce any potential miscommunication and frustration during the process.
Jacquelyn Nause is a contributing writer with specialties in real estate, parenting and wellness. She enjoys traveling with her husband, being a doting mother to her two incredible kids and enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest playground.