I believe the design process should be a collaboration, a team effort.
A design brief from the client is a good place to start. It can include a list of likes and dislikes, ideas and sketches. What matters is capturing the essence of the project. Pictures and inspirations are also a great way of conveying likes and dislikes. Site visits are essential to really understanding the constraints and the opportunities of a site. It’s important to spend time getting to know the site – knowing the direction of north just isn’t enough.
I find the best way is to start very loose with freehand sketches to bring early concepts for the project together with the site and the natural environment. Sharing rough ideas and options at the beginning help to build an understanding of how the house might take shape, and to agree on a direction to move forward with. Concept sketches are refined and shared until the design is ready to be drawn up in Revit, a 3D CAD program.
The final documentation stage of the process includes detailed drawings, design details, structural elements, and a short written specification to clarify materials and finishes. These will be the documents that builders quote and build from. More detailed documentation will give you a more accurate quote and a more enjoyable building process. I have found that minimal documentation can result in unexpected problems and costly variations during the build.
As a registered builder, I am also able to assist with the tendering process, selection of a builder and monitor the construction on behalf of the client.