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How to Start Your Project

Your building project may be one of the largest investments you ever make. We all need to work carefully with the budgets we are entrusted with, and our decisions need to return benefits immediately and for the long-run. Moreover, our decisions often have to include the needs of multiple stakeholders.

So what’s the best way to start a project?

Whether you have a lot of experience or none, it’s best to start by asking yourself a few key questions. Your answers to these questions don’t need to be completely fleshed out right away. The purpose of thinking about them is to orient yourself to the kinds of communication that will help you choose the best design professional for your needs.

Project Planning with Engan Associates Team

Start by asking yourself

  • Why do you want to do this project?
  • What is the outcome you are looking for?
  • What is your greatest hope for the project?
  • What is your greatest fear for the project?
  • Who will be making the core decisions of your project (Just you? A Board of Directors? Other stakeholders?)
  • Where will the resources come from for your building project?
  • When do you need your project to begin and end?
  • How do you envision this project being accomplished?

These answers—and the thought process they stimulate—help your architect develop a shared vision with you for your project. These questions also serve as the basis for the Predesign services typically included in a Master Plan or Master Facility Plan—a roadmap for the success of your project (see below for more on these Plans).

While each architectural team has unique strengths, there are a couple qualities that are universally important.


A building project is a collaboration, and successful collaboration begins with listening. You are the expert when it comes to understanding your needs. Your architect should listen to you first, then advise you on creative design solutions to meet your needs.


Through active listening, your architect should understand what is most valuable to you. The result is a project that meets your objectives—in enduring quality, cost, and efficiency.

Design Sketching

Shared Vision, Innovative Design

We call this process “Shared Vision, Innovative Design.” It’s a time-tested approach that is tailored to your unique needs.

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