Before starting a construction project, any competent architect or builder understands how important it is to have a positive working relationship with the client. However, one of the most difficult responsibilities that professionals in the building business must deal with is managing client expectations throughout the extensive process of building or designing a structure, whether it's a house, an office, or an industrial facility.
Because of this, it's essential to comprehend client expectations up front and make sure you can manage or fulfill them. A great way to do this is by including an architecture client questionnaire in your onboarding process that will help you anticipate future needs and draft better fee proposals.
To help you create your own questionnaire, let's dive into the basic information you must know and some questions to include.
Note:With Bonsai's custom client forms, you can design professional, branded questionnaires to get the input you need from your clients. You can fully customize it to fit each client as well as project site to ensure a unique and well-designed form. Claim your free trial today!
What Is an Architecture Client Questionnaire?
A client questionnaire is a set of questions you must ask each of your prospective clients, to clarify their needs and goals regarding the design or construction project. It can include personal questions to determine their budget or how they intend to use the space, as well as specific project-related questions such as any particular architectural style or material preference. You can make these questions part of your client phone calls, or you can ask them to fill out a physical document such as a written format.
Why a Client Questionnaire?
Drafting your construction or design proposal can take up a lot of (unpaid) time. From doing the proper research, meeting with the client and calculating estimates, this process is usually costly and exhausting. So before you begin drafting your proposal, it's good business to make sure your company is a suitable fit for the project and the project owner by starting your partnership with a clear client onboarding procedure. A client questionnaire is one of the best ways to solve this issue, because it will give you a clear insight as to how committed the customer is to your firm and their own project before making any commitment.
16 Questions to Include Your Client Questionnaire
When creating your construction or design questionnaire, you should include questions that help you discover your client's budget and get a better understanding on what they are looking for. You may also be able to find signs or evidence that they might just want some design ideas without an actual intent of hiring you for the services.
Here are some important probing questions you need to ask.
How did you hear about our firm? (Were you referred by one of our clients, saw our advertisement online, did your own research, or something else?
Where are you in the building/design process? (Do you currently own the land/property or are you in the process of acquiring it, are you currently shopping around or have you started any construction work?)
Do you have a clear idea of your budget? (In the case of a construction project, the budget would not include engineering or design fees, utility hookups, cost of land, and permit fees).
What is your schedule or timeline like? Are there any time constraints or concerns for the project?
Will you be using any financing for the construction project, and if so, has the loan already been approved?
What are your basic requirements for the design or construction project? Include any site plans if you have them (How many bathrooms are needed, is there a second floor in the existing structure and how do you want to use it, how many bedrooms do you want, etc...)
What leisure time activities are important to you and where do they take place? (For example, if you need a space to practice a sport, play a musical instrument, paint, etc...)
What work activities are important to you, and where do they take place?
What are other activities that you prioritize or are part of your daily routine and where do they take place? (These could be religious activities, parenting, pets, etc...)
Do you have any special landscaping requirements or important design features you like? (Do you want a connection between outdoor/indoor spaces, you need natural light, etc...)
What spaces in the property are most important to you, and how much time do you spend there? (kitchen, dining room, family room, backyard, etc...)
Do you have any special equipment you will need storage for or will you need an accessory dwelling unit? (camping gear, large vacuum cleaners, golf equipment, etc...)
Do you have a preferred architectural style, or one you would like to know more about?
Do you have any sustainability goals or standards for the project? (Energy efficiency and alternatives such as solar or wind power, composting toilets and any other resource-conscious features)
Is there anyone in your family with mobility problems or disabilities?
Do you have guests over often? Do they usually spend time in indoor or outdoor spaces?
These are just some of the probing questions that most design firms use to get a better idea on the long term plan clients have for their project. Feel free to add more questions you think will help guide you in the right direction.
An Important Note For Your Prospective Clients
In order to achieve design excellence, you want your new clients to give this questionnaire careful consideration, taking the time to answer these questions with as many descriptive words as possible. Consider adding an 'important note' section to remind them of the following:
Not all family members will have the same perspective regarding the design/construction project, so your client must bring in as much input as possible to the discussion. You want to ensure you're creating a space that works for everyone in the household.
This questionnaire is not a problem solving tool, or a way to reach a conclusion on the project. It is only a way to get their input on important aspects that can help achieve successful projects.
Future needs must be considered. Encourage your clients to think about how their lifestyle might change and how the home, office, etc., might need to adapt to the different stages of their life.
When necessary and applicable, your client can provide examples such as sketches, lists, photographs and other visuals to help you get a clear picture of their expectations.
Not all questions must be answered, if there is something your clients find difficult to answer or irrelevant to their needs, they should feel free to skip it and move on with the rest of the questions. You will have time to meet with them later and find out this information if you need it.
Use Bonsai to Improve Your Client Onboarding Process
More professionals in the architecture and construction industry are now choosing Bonsai's all-in-one product suite to efficiently handle their administrative tasks. We offer a variety of freelance forms to help with lead capture, client feedback, and client questionnaires. You can fully customize every field to include free-form or multiple-choice responses to capture your client's input in the best possible way.
But that's not all! Here are some other tools that make Bonsai the go-to product for many independent workers and small business owners.
Help With Proposals
Free architecture proposal templates especially designed for your profession and completely customizable. Send it as an online document and receive a notification when your prospective client receives and accepts your project proposal.
Attorney Reviewed Agreements
Free legally reviewed architect contract templates that have been used by thousands of other professionals in your industry. They include a legally-binding e-signature option to help you streamline the formalities and get your project started as soon as possible.
Time and task tracking software to help you stay on top of your deadlines and monitor employee performance. Our reports can automatically be downloaded in the form of an invoice to make billing your clients a bliss.
Tax and accounting software that will ensure your business finances stay under control and you keep track of all of your expenses and income. We also help you identify and maximize tax write-offs for a smooth tax season.
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