Engineering and architectural design might seem easy for educated and experienced professionals, but what if you want to do these things on your own without any expertise in the field? Moreover, even architects and designers can struggle with some aspects of their profession. For instance, the preparation stage is particularly important. This is when you can plan out your entire project. Nowadays, ADUs are particularly popular, so you might want to study how to design them. Without further ado, here are five tips for writing a design brief for your ADU project.

What Is an ADU Project?

An accessory dwelling unit or ADU is a type of housing unit usually built on a single-family residential lot. It is a secondary unit that has several different types such as:

  • Detached New Construction ADUs (backyard cottages, laneway houses, granny flats, or DADUs)
  • Garage Conversion ADUs
  • ADUs Above a Garage or Workshop (or attached to it; sometimes called garage apartments or carriage houses)
  • Addition ADUs (bump-out ADUs)
  • Basement Conversion ADUs (basement apartments, in-law units, secondary suites, accessory apartments, English basements)
  • Internal ADUs

While choosing between these can be overwhelming, types of ADUs are actually quite similar to one another. They are usually either adjacent to a primary housing unit or are considering an accessory. To build an ADU, you will need to first create a design brief that will prepare you for the actual planning of the ADU. Here’s how you can create a detailed design brief for your ADU project.

#1 Start with Your Outline

First and foremost, you need to understand what your design brief should include. If you don’t have much experience with this, you can hire a professional writer from the custom writing reviews site Trust My Paper to help you. The key elements of any design brief are:

  • Project Overview and Scope: The general details about the ADU project.
  • Goals and Objectives: The key objectives you set for the project.
  • Design Requirements: Additional details about the ADU, including design style, plans, and measurements, etc.
  • Project Budget and Timeline: The project’s budget, resources, and timeline.

Obviously, if you are making the design brief for someone else, you can also add sections such as company profile overview (about your company completing the project), target audience and market (if the ADU will be marketed at a specific audience), and deliverables (that you will have to provide throughout the project’s duration).

Whatever the case is, it’s a good idea to first create an outline for your brief by using these elements. This way, you will have a clear direction to follow and you won’t forget about any important points that your brief must include.

#2 Estimate Your Resources

Once you have an outline ready for your design brief, you will need to estimate the resources available to you as well as the budget you will need for the project. If you have a tight budget, you will likely need to make very difficult creative decisions about your ADU project. However, you can still make very interesting choices even if you are limited financially.

Likewise, it’s worth estimating the resources you currently have. Of course, you can acquire more resources, especially if you have a good budget, but it’s better to first start with what you already have. If you are creating the ADU for yourself, you will have full control over these things, so it’s up to you to make such important decisions about how you use your budget and resources.

On the other hand, if you are creating this design brief and will be building the ADU for someone else, you might need to consider the preferences of your client. What are their personal ideas about the ADU? Did they provide you with enough resources and a big enough budget to actually do everything they want you to do? It’s good to discuss these details before you start planning the ADU seriously.

#3 Choose Your Style

As explained above, creativity is still possible even if you don’t have a big budget or many resources. But however many of these you possess, you will always need to choose your style for the ADU and decide how you will be designing everything. Of course, if you need some help with this, you can always hire a professional writer from a site with reviews of services who will assist you throughout the planning.

Of course, the first thing you will need to do is choose what type of ADU you will be creating. Then, you will need to consider the lifestyle and use of the unit. How will you live in the ADU or who will live there if not you? How will the unit be used? What is the climate like in your location (this could impact major decisions)? What is the primary housing unit like and how does the ADU fit into it all?

It’s a good idea to think about both the interior and exterior design of the ADU at this stage already. Outdoor spaces should have a design style that matches well with the indoor design style. Besides, because the ADU is attached to your primary home, you might want to focus on the home’s style to decide how you will design the ADU.

#4 Ensure Sustainability

While this might not be your number one concern, sustainability is actually very important for your ADU project. If you design a sustainable and energy-efficient unit, you will be satisfied with your ADU for years or even decades to come. It’s best to think about the future rather than only focusing on short-term results.

Focusing on sustainability might make your work a little more complicated. However, it’s still better than not doing anything at all in this regard. Moreover, nowadays there are so many sustainable and energy-efficient solutions available at an affordable price. You just need to do your research and make the right decisions for your ADU.

#5 Proofread and Edit

After you have written the first draft of your design brief, you will need to proofread and edit it. There might be some things you forgot to add or some adjustments that have to be made. Perhaps you even have new ideas that you think will work really well with the ADU. In addition to that, you also need to identify and correct any linguistic errors you notice. These include grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes.

If your writing skills are not very good, you can always use the writing services reviews site TopWritingReviews to look for a writer who will help you. By getting assistance from a professional, you will be sure that your final brief is as good as it can be. Experienced writers will find any mistakes and even help you with word choice and phrasing.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

While there are specific tips you should follow, you should also try to avoid making some common mistakes while writing your design brief:

  • Be Careful with Calculations – If you are an engineer, you already know just how important they are, so be careful when making them.
  • Think About the Big Picture – Don’t look at your ADU room by room but rather consider the big picture as well as your primary housing unit.
  • Focus on Quality and Comfort – Instead of only prioritizing aesthetics, try to focus on quality and comfort as well as functionality.
  • Do It Your Way – Trends come and go, so don’t try to chase what’s popular right now – just do it the way you want the ADU to be.


To summarize, writing a design brief is relatively easy if you have enough experience. However, if it’s your first time making one, you can still do it well. Use the tips in this article to help you write your own design brief for an ADU project.


In case you have any architectural, structural, and MEP design including fire sprinkler design requirements, or need to design your ADU project including structure, and HVAC design, feel free to contact us.  We provide you with the full permit set design + T24 for your request.


Author’s Bio

Lillie Jenkins is a creative copywriter and content writer. She has worked as a copywriter since school, so her writing skills are well-honed. She is also a copywriter at the popular writing center BestWritersOnline. Her other skills include preparing publications in such fields as marketing, business, education, and personal life. More than writing Lillie loves to travel and read professional literature.