A building program is a major effort entailing the investment of much time and money. Therefore, an important step in achieving success is selection of the Architectural/Engineering firm (A/E) that will play a very important role in the undertaking. The basic components of the A/E procurement process include the following:
To prepare a good program it is often necessary to begin by receiving input from persons who bring different perspectives of what is required for a successful project – e.g. the CFO’s input on the budget for the project, the director of plant operations input on floor area and clear height requirements, the IT’s input on high-tech requirements, etc. After gathering this information, prepare the program consisting of, but not limited to, the following:
And, if applicable:
Making use of any existing, pertinent data on hand will save the cost of having it procured by the A/E. The data may include, among others, items such as:
Drawings of the existing site and building(s) are required if the project is additions and/or alterations to an existing facility.
A complete, well defined, scope of the A/E (architectural as well as ordinary structural, mechanical and electrical engineering) services is required for obtaining reliable proposals. This entails the services during the schematic design, design development, construction documents, bid/permit and construction administration phases of the process. Since the American Institute of Architects has typical Client/Architect agreement forms for both large and small projects you may want to use one of them as the scope. In addition, examples of other things that may apply to the A/E services are as follows:
If the project is alterations and/or addition(s):
Any deviations from the usual scope of A/E services – e.g.:
While making inquiries with word of mouth, performing website research, etc., some particularly important factors to consider include a firm’s past experience on projects comparable to the type and size of the one you are about to undertake as well as it’s track record in fulfilling their client’s needs.
It will be especially helpful if the RFP’s sent are as succinct as possible without omitting any information the A/E firms need in order to make unambiguous proposals. In addition, it is wise to note in the RFP that you reserve the right to make the final selection based upon the lowest and/or best cost quotation as it affects your needs.
After reviewing all proposals the determination of which firm(s) to interview can be made. Some of the primary subjects to include during interviewing include the following:
The fee quoted in the proposal is obviously important but there are other factors to consider in making the selection. Since you are entering into a relationship that will involve intense collaboration over a significant period of time, it is helpful to select an A/E with which you will be able to work harmoniously on both a professional and personal level. Also, in accord with what has previously been learned by word of mouth, website research, etc., you may decide the best value received for the dollars spent will be provided by a firm whose fee was not the lowest quoted.
Incidentally, if you have a well-established, trusting relationship with an A/E which is highly qualified for your project, you may very well elect to provide that firm with the RFP and attempt to negotiate an agreement rather than using the competitive selection process.