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The Importance of Sketch Design

It all starts with Sketch Design. This is the stage that tells us what the design is going to be about. How big, how small? What are the key ideas?

This stage is first about listening, understanding the client, the brief, then producing a series of hand-drawn sketches. This allows us to work fast, relatively inexpensively to test options. We try to use existing plans with some quick checks as a base. This leaves time-consuming measuring up’s and computer modelling for another stage.


We undertake sketches of the site, of the existing plan. We analysis what works, what doesn’t. The focus is on the plan, getting the right things in the places. What is the best relationship between the different pieces? How many ways can they be arranged? This is the stage for testing any and every idea – blue sky thinking. What happens if we do this? It only takes a minute to sketch it.

We often propose to just undertake sketch design in the first instance. The brief can be developed as part of the sketches – what can we do with this existing building? It’s an opportunity to show a client what we can do. Importantly we can use the sketches to get an estimate of costs from a Quantity Surveyor. Construction has become expensive. It’s important to test the cost. We can then adjust the sketches accordingly to define the scope of work for further stages.

Its easy at this stage to look at further future changes. We might be moving the kitchen and dining room now but show in the future where stairs and an additional storey might go.

The pictured images show a recently completed sketch design. The client had a tired bungalow which had received many alterations over the years. Its favoured north east aspect was shaded by a garage and carport. A dining space disconnected and unused from the kitchen/living. The laundry was a cupboard in the kitchen and bathrooms too small. There were poor connections to the outside.

The solution was to make the dining space a bedroom, allowing a cold south facing bedroom to be used for improved bathroom/laundry/storage spaces. A relatively modest 12m2 extension creates a contemporary kitchen/dining/living space connected several improved outdoor spaces.


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