Project brief for design and construction
- The statement of need is the first attempt to describe the possible requirements of the project.
- The strategic brief develops from the statement of need and describes the client's requirements in sufficient detail to allow the appointment of consultants. It is then developed further with the benefit of comments made by the consultants.
- The project brief is the key document upon which the design will be based.
The project brief will evolve through the project brief stage and the concept design stage with the benefit of information gained from consultations with the client and other stakeholders and ongoing design development.
As well as gathering information about physical requirements, the briefing process should:
- Verify the objectives and priorities of the project.
- Ensure space, time and budget parameters are aligned with the client’s vision and needs.
- Ensure expectations are reasonable and attainable.
- Clarify client roles and the project structure.
- Establish how much the client know already and their level of experience; do they already have a clear brief?
- Gather contextual information.
- Gather user information.
- Establish the building life span and flexibility requirements.
It may be developed based upon:
- Existing information such as the business case, the statement of need and the strategic brief.
- Site surveys, site information and site appraisals.
- Analysis of existing accommodation.
- Workshops with champions and user panels to establish needs, expectations and priorities.
- Input from other stakeholders.
- A wider consultation process.
- User surveys.
- Input from statutory authorities such as the fire brigade, statutory utilities, local authority, heritage organisations and so on.
The project brief may include:
- A description of the client's brand, culture and organisation.
- A description of the client's vision, mission and objectives.
- A description of the client's priorities and the criteria that will be used to measure success.
- Organisational structure and decision making processes.
- Changes to the client that the project will bring about.
- Interfaces with other projects.
- Client policies that may be applicable to the project (for example; transport policy, energy policy, natural ventilation policy, sustainability policy).
- Client preferences for the project (for example; image, use of local materials, use of landscape etc) and quality expectations (including health and safety, sustainability and design quality).
- A description of the principles that will be adopted in the development of the design.
- Building surveys.
- Site surveys.
- Information about ground conditions.
- The location and capacity of utilities.
- Access and other constraints.
- Legislative constraints.
- Existing planning consents.
 Spatial requirements
- Schedules of accommodation, areas and special requirements.
- Schedules of users (including external users), their numbers, departments, functions, organisational structure and operational characteristics.
- Spatial policies (for example open plan or cellular offices, daylighting requirements, temperature ranges and acoustic standards).
- Required adjacencies, groupings and separations.
- Circulation guidelines and identification of major circulation flows.
 Technical requirements
- Structural strategy (columns and gridlines to be adopted, special loads, floor to ceiling heights).
- Servicing requirements, including specialist requirements.
- Comfort conditions and level of user control.
- Acoustic requirements.
- Equipment requirements.
- Specialist requirements for furniture, finishes, fixtures and fittings.
- Information and communications technology (ICT) requirements.
- Requirements for specialist processes and plant.
- Fire compartments.
- Maintenance and cleaning requirements.
- Likelihood of future change (for example staff numbers) and flexibility required.
- Sustainability objectives and energy use targets.
- Safety and security requirements.
- Resilience to potential hazards or threats.
- Waste and water management.
- Pollution control.
- Flexibility and future uses.
- Durability and lifespan.
- Other performance requirements.
- Benchmarking information.
- Long-lead items.
- Potential requirement for specialist design or specialist contractors design.
- Cladding strategy and materials selection procedures.
 Project requirements and other issues
- Planning requirements.
- Outcome of any consultation processes.
- Project programme and key milestones.
- Known risks.
- Targets for post occupancy evaluation outcomes and other performance targets.
The project brief will become increasingly detailed throughout the project brief and concept design stages, and may ultimately include very specific information such a room data information for each room.
The project brief is likely to be presented as a report, however, where possible, information and requirements should be scheduled in a database or spreadsheet format that will be easy to expand and will be easy to use to test whether proposals satisfy requirements later in the project.
On projects that adopt building information modelling (BIM), the employer's information requirements (EIR) may be considered a parallel document to the project brief. Whereas, the project brief sets out the requirements for the physical, built asset, the employers information requirements define the information the employer needs to procure to enable them to develop and operate the built asset. For more information, see employer's information requirements.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Briefing documents.
- Business case.
- Employer's information requirements.
- Feasibility studies.
- Output-based specification.
- Preliminary business case.
- Project directory.
- Project execution plan.
- Statement of need.
- Strategic brief.
- User panels.
- Value planning.
 External references
- OGC: Project brief.
- Property Advisers to the Civil Estate: Guidance on the Appointment of Contractors and Consultants P71.
Featured articles and news
What will the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) mean for you when they come into force in May?
Business Secretary chairs a new taskforce to monitor and advise on mitigating the impacts of Carillion’s liquidation.
Sir John Armitt is appointed the new chair of the National Infrastructure Commission.
High quality and high density homes - is it what we need or is it storing up trouble?
Government announces its intention to strengthen planning rules to protect music venues and neighbours.
National Audit Office reports that there is little evidence that PFI offers better value than other forms of contracting.
What is liquidation and how does it apply to contractors in the construction industry?
Scrutiny is placed on Carillion's controversial 2013 decision to extend subcontractor payment terms to 120 days.
RSHP unveil their involvement in a boundary crossing which will provide a new entry point into Hong Kong.
With PFI currently under the spotlight due to Carillion, this introductory article explains what they are.
Estimates suggest that up to 30,000 small firms could be at risk of non-payment as a result of Carillion's collapse.