Briefing sessions are always interesting. At InterComm we believe that the brief is the most critical part of the project. Therefore the person who will take the brief is usually an engineer with BSc in a technology field. They will usually have around 5-10 years hands-on experience in programming, and a strong background in business management.
Many client’s don’t realise what they are asking for. They will cite multi-million dollar websites like Amazon as an example of what they are looking for – within their budget of R12 000.
For your amusement, I have described what would happen if architects were briefed like web designers…
“Please design and build me a house. I am not quite sure of what I need, so you should use your discretion. My house should have somewhere between two and forty-five bedrooms. Make sure the plans are such that the bedrooms can be easily added or removed. “
“When you bring the blueprints to me, I will make a decision of what I want for the next 3 months. Also, bring me the cost breakdown for each configuration so that I can pick one.
“Keep in mind that the house I ultimately choose must cost less than the one I am currently living in. Make sure, however, that you correct all the deficiencies that exist in my current house (which is a one room bachelor pad in psychedelic animal print).
“As you design, also keep in mind that I want to keep yearly maintenance costs as low as possible. Please do not include any expensive features. (But if you choose not to specify aluminium, be prepared to explain your decision in detail.)
“Please take care that modern design practices and the latest materials are used in construction of the house, as I want it to be a showplace for the most up-to-date ideas and methods. Be alerted, however, that kitchen should be designed to accommodate, among other things, my 1942 coal-fired Aga stove my grandmother gave me.
“To ensure that you are building the correct house for our entire family, make certain that you contact each of our children, and also our in-laws. My mother-in-law will have very strong feelings about how the house should be designed, since she visits us at least once a year.
“Make sure that you weigh all of these options carefully and come to the right decision, I trust you as an experienced and skilled designer. I, however, retain the right to overrule any choices that you make – I AM the client.
“Please don’t bother me with small details. Your job is to develop the overall plans for the house: Get the big picture. At this time, for example, I realise it is not appropriate to be choosing the colour of the 2nd bedroom carpet. However, keep in mind that my wife likes blue.
“Also, do not worry at this time about the resources required to build the house. There is no deadline. Your priority is to develop detailed plans and specifications. Once I approve these plans, however, I would expect the house to be under roof within 48 hours.
“While you are designing this house specifically for me, keep in mind that sooner or later I will have to sell it to someone else. It therefore should have appeal to a wide variety of potential buyers, including market niches I might think of appealing to next year.
“Please make sure before you finalize the plans that there is a consensus of the population in my area that they like the features this house has. I advise you to run up and look at my neighbour’s house that he constructed last year. We like it a great deal. It has many features that we would also like in our new home, particularly the 75-foot swimming pool. With careful engineering, I believe that you can design this into our new house without impacting the final cost.
“Please prepare a complete set of blueprints. It is not necessary at this time to do the real design, since they will be used only for construction bids. Be advised, however, that you will be held accountable for any increase of construction costs as a result of later design changes.
“You must be thrilled to be working on as an interesting project as this! To be able to use the latest techniques and materials and to be given such freedom in your designs is something that can’t happen very often.
“Contact me as soon as possible with your complete ideas and plans.”
PS: My wife has just told me that she disagrees with many of the instructions I’ve given you in this letter. As architect, it is your responsibility to resolve these differences. I have tried in the past and have been unable to accomplish this. If you can’t handle this responsibility, I will have to find another architect.
PPS: Perhaps what I need is not a house at all, but a caravan. Please advise me as soon as possible if this is the case.