Guide to the Design Consultation Visit

Guide to the Design Consultation Visit

How to kickstart your project

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The Design Consultation Visit (DCV) is the starting point for all our projects with homeowners. A DCV is an extended first visit to a new project which allows plenty of time for discussion, analysis of the existing property and the development of some initial sketch proposals. During the Design Consultation Visit we will aim to refine your brief, honing in on the key aspects of your project and determining the best way to reach an optimum solution. Just as every home is different, no two DCVs will be exactly the same and each experience and outcome will vary depending on the particular circumstances of the project. Using examples from recent DCV visits, this blog post aims to give an indication of how the visit can help in getting a project off to a good start.

Defining the brief
One of the key and important outcomes of a Design Consultation Visit is the creation of a brief for your project. The brief is the key working document which sets out the aims and objectives of the project alongside other important factors such as budget, planning issues and site constraints. In some cases homeowners have a very clear idea of what their brief is and the DCV can assist in confirming the feasibility of their project through analysis of the existing property and the related constraints. In other cases homeowners may have one, two or three different ideas and need assistance in working through these to determine which option will achieve the optimum solution.

A recent DCV undertaken in September is a good example of how several different ideas can be analysed before coming to a consensus on a brief for the project. The visit was at a detached 1930s property which suffered from not having enough living accommodation for a growing family. There were several options to consider, including converting the loft, creating a two storey extension, upgrading the existing outbuilding and/or building a single storey extension. Following exploration of these options, including an assessment of the pros and cons of each, it was concluded that the optimum solution for the particular circumstances would be a single storey rear extension and an upgrade of the existing outbuilding. This is an example of a project where there were potentially several different ways of extending and enlarging the property and the DCV analysis served to tease out which option was best suited to the homeowners’ requirements, aspirations, lifestyle and budget.

Briefing Pro-Forma Image
Above: Example of the briefing pro-forma, completed following the DCV and used to set out the project requirements.

Initial sketches
Another key aspect of the DCV is the development of some initial sketch layouts to test the ideas discussed. These could be done to assist in defining the brief or to begin to explore how a proposed layout will fit with the existing building. The image below shows an example of the type of sketch plan that is produced during the course of a DCV. It is hand drawn to scale and shows in plan form a possible layout for a proposed extension and how this relates to the existing house.

Sketch Plan in Progress
Above: Example of a sketch plan produced during the course of a Design Consultation Visit.

In some cases the sketch plans can be used to determine whether a proposal is feasible or not by using accurate measurements and scaled drawings to work through proposals. A recent example of this is a DCV at a property which our clients were considering purchasing. One of the key considerations was whether a bathroom could be added to the existing first floor without too much disruption to the existing building. By undertaking some measurements and sketching out the existing layout it was possible to determine that through an extension of the existing dormer window it would be feasible to fit a bathroom into a central space over the ground floor. With this knowledge it was then possible to define the rest of the brief for the project.

The next steps
At the end of the DCV you should be in a position where you have a clearly defined brief and at least one sketch layout which shows a 2D plan drawing of an initial proposal. These elements are the starting point for your project, they provide the basis on which to begin the development of the overall concept design, from which the rest of the project follows on.

After the DCV Laura Gerada Architects will be able to provide you with a detailed, bespoke fee quotation for architectural services for the rest of your project. We also offer some DCV follow-up services which may be of interest following your visit:

  • Further Options:
    Following our visit you may like us to follow up some further design options for your project.
  • 3D Visualisation:
    In order to get a better understanding of the sketch proposals you might opt to have them produced in a 3D format.
  • Further Research:
    If any potential issues arose during the visit which could benefit from further investigation we can undertake further research.


The Design Consultation Visit is the catalyst to get your project started. During this extended visit you have the opportunity to talk through your proposed project in detail. These discussions and analysis of the existing property are used to develop a brief for your project. We also take some initial measurements and sketch out some initial proposals to enable you to see the ideas down on paper. At the end of the visit you should be in a good position to either take advantage of our follow up services or take the project forward to the next steps. We aim for the DCV to be a high value exercise which gives you a greater insight into the design potential of your home.

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