The Pre-Design Questionnaire

We have put together a list of questions for anyone thinking of building or renovating a home. You can print these questions out and answer them as a starting point to the planning process, or just use the list to help you clarify for yourself what your needs and goals are. 

As you go through the questions, keep a few things in mind:

  • As much as possible, give qualitative not quantitative information. We want you to present us with questions not answers; that way we can be sure to get to the heart of the matter and not run the risk of missing the real issues. We may know more than one way to resolve a problem or create an outcome.  If this is hard, tell us what and why you like or don’t like something in your house or in a place you used to live, or something you have seen at someone else’s house. Give examples. Use as many descriptive words as you can.
  • If there are differences of opinions amongst members of your household, let us know all the opinions; we want to address everyone’s concerns and may be able to create something that works for everyone.
  • Don’t try to solve the problem, just express your desires, even if they seem at odds with each other or impossible to obtain.
  • Don’t be afraid to think about and tell us what your “perfect world” would be like.
  • If it is relevant, try to anticipate future needs or changes.
  • We encourage you to collect images that you like; consider images of particular things that you like, or ones that create a good mood or feeling, and maybe pictures that you are simply drawn to.
  • If a question is not relevant to your situation, just skip it.

The Questions:

1.    What leisure time activities are important, do they take place in the house, on the property and/or what is required to support the activity?

2.    What work activities are important, do they take place at home or on the property, and what is required to support the activities?

3.    What other activities or needs are a priority, where do they take place, and what is required to support them? (For example, parenting, religion, entertaining, pets, or whatever activities are at the core of your daily, weekly or monthly life are important to uncover)

4.    Is TV an important focus, an occasional activity, or not important at all?

5.    Is music a regular focus, in the background, or not important at all?

6.    Do you own any equipment that needs to be incorporated or planned for in any way?

7.    Do you own any furniture or art that needs to be incorporated or planned for in any way?

8.    Are there architectural styles that you like, are drawn to, or want to know more about?

9.    Are your sensibilities formal, modern, casual, chic, country, minimalist, or a combination of styles?

10.    Are there any special features that are important to you? (for example fireplace, cathedral ceiling, or sunroom)

11.    Do you want any rooms or areas to convey a particular feeling, like calm or energizing?

12.    Do you prefer hard-surface floors, area rugs, or wall-to-wall carpet?

13.    Do you want window treatments? Are the window treatments decorative or for blocking light or view?

14.    Do you prefer natural materials to synthetic?

15.    Is there a message or feeling you want the house to convey?

16.    Is this a primary or secondary home?

17.    How long to you plan to own the house?

18.    If it is a primary home, do you spend long periods of time away from home, or is it almost always occupied?

19.    If it is a secondary home, how much time will you spend there and at what time of year? Would it ever be a rental?

20.    Is the house for your use or for resale?

21.    What issues are central to bringing you to this point, and which is the highest priority?

22.    Are there any health or wellness issues that concern you, such as air quality, mold, toxicity, the natural environment, special needs, or future special needs?

23.    Who will live in or use this house?

24.    Do you enjoy cooking and spending a lot of time in the kitchen? Do you have a staff member who prepares meals? Do you eat out most of the time?

25.    Do you entertain a lot, occasionally, or almost never?

26.    Do you presently have too much of one kind of space and/or not enough of another kind of space?

27.    What is the quality of light you want to achieve? (for example, morning sun in the kitchen, dark at night in my bedroom, the ability to create different moods in the dining room)

28.    What is the quality of sound you want to achieve? (for example, I want it quiet in my office/ meditation space; I want to be able to hear my kids when they are in the back yard)

29.    What views are important and what kind of connection do you want to establish to the outdoors?

30.    What relationships between rooms and spaces are important? (for example, I want my office/meditation space tucked away and private; I want the kitchen open and adjacent to the family room; I want the guest space to seem private; I want the kids working on the computer were they can be monitored)

31.    Do you have colors that you love? Do you like things bright, colorful, muted, neutral, or earthy?

32.    Do you have friends or family members who stay for long periods of time?

33.    Do you have, or anticipate in the future, an elderly family member living with you?

34.    Where in your house do people tend to gather and spend most of their time?

35.    Are ceiling heights important to you?

36.    Do you have a clear picture of your present or future budget? Include details if possible.

37.    What timeline constraints or concerns do you have?

38.    Are there any natural features on your property that are important to view, enhance, protect, or experience in any way?

39.    Are there any features on your property or abutting property that you want screened from view?

40.    Are you aware of any problems with zoning, codes, neighbors, or anything else that may create an obstacle?

41.    Are there any views that you want to achieve or avoid from a particular location or room?

42.    Are any outbuildings part of the scope of work? (for example, guest house, barn, pool house, garden shed)

43.    What transitional spaces are part of the scope of work or important to you? (for example, porch, deck, patio, covered walkway)

44.    What outdoor spaces are part of the scope of work or important to you? (for example, swimming pool, tennis court, play area, or garden)

45.    Do you have any interest in or want to know more about energy efficiency, resource consciousness, healthy human environment, alternative energy (such as solar or wind power), composting toilets, or grey-water systems?

46.    Are you interested in or concerned about curb appeal and/or resale value?

47.    Have you built a house, renovated, or added on to a house before? What was the experience like?

48.    Is there a particular way that you would like to work with us, or is there something you want us to be aware of or sensitive to?

49.    Do you prefer particular modes of communication? (for example, email, phone, face to face, handwritten correspondence, or a combination)

50.    What questions do you have for us?