- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 08 Jul 2019
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 knows 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.
- 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 as 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.
- Client requirements.
- 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
A review of Scotland’s historic lighthouses.
Choosing the most suitable heating system.
Another year of growth, says BSRIA.
Property practices to help tenant retention.
Fire rips through HPL cladding in Bolton.
Disturbing complacency over short courses.
The new science of building engineering physics.
How new technologies and processes could impact on energy efficiency and wellbeing.
BRE launches the BREEAM Data Centres Annex Pilot.
Replacing lanterns and overthrows in Great Pulteney Street.
Will market-led regeneration work without state intervention?
The New Towns