There are two reasons why Denny Conner gives potential clients this questionnaire. First, it encourages his clients to start thinking and reflecting before the first design meeting. Second, it provides a record of the evolution of the project. “In the past, clients have forgotten they asked us to spend design time on a certain element,” says Conner, president of Seattle-based Conner Remodeling and Design. “Then we'd have to have a discussion about the discussion, and we'd lose creative time backpedaling and justifying.”

In the short time he's used it, Conner says this form, given to clients at the end of their free consultation and picked up at the first design meeting, has been very useful. “Everybody has more dreams than they have budget,” he says. “This is where they start to prioritize.”