Before developing a design solution for a residential project, the designer must undertake several preparatory tasks. Each of these tasks involves gathering, organizing, and evaluating information that will serve as the foundation for the subsequent design phases. Meeting and talking to the clients is often the first task of the research and preparation phase and is addressed more thoroughly in this chapter. The other preparatory activities are related to the site itself and include (1) obtaining measurements of the site, (2) preparing a scaled base sheet and base map, (3) conducting a site inventory and analysis, and (4) writing a design program. These tasks are discussed in Chapters 6 and 7.
Meeting and talking to the clients is a critical step because it establishes the groundwork for the ensuing design phases. This step gives the designer the necessary information about the clients’ wishes and requirements for the site. If undertaken properly, it also sets the overall tone for how the designer and clients will interact throughout the remainder of the design process. It is important that both parties develop trust and respect for each other through open and honest communication. This is a key ingredient in developing a design that both clients and designer can be proud of.
This chapter provides guidelines for getting the project started in a positive and constructive manner, including (1) learning about the designer, (2) initial client contact, (3) meeting the clients, and (4) developing a proposal for design services. All these topics and activities are the basis for a professional and enjoyable working relationship between the designer and the clients.