Before You Issue an RFP for Design Services

Private businesses, school districts, churches, and other entities anticipating a building project will often prepare and distribute a Request for Proposal (RFP) to potential design service providers. An RFP can be a great tool for outlining your project, defining your expectations, and obtaining proposals for comparable services from multiple firms.  However, an ambiguous or generic RFP (or a previous document forced out of retirement in order to serve once again without thoughtful revision) can add confusion to a situation that is often already lacking clarity. The biggest problem with RFPs is the potential for confusion and the possibility of you being left trying to compare the proverbial “apples and oranges”.


Prior to issuing an RFP, we strongly recommend that you set up a meeting or discussion with an architect who has experience working in your community, understands the project type, and will, therefore, be best suited to act as a resource to help you clarify what needs should be addressed. This interaction (in person, by phone or online) is typically free of charge for a prospective project and will often provide you with additional ideas you may not have thought to include in your original RFP.  


Keep in mind that responding to an RFP takes a significant amount of time and effort, and they are frequently distributed by entities unfamiliar with the types of services they are requesting. We often receive RFPs which contain self-contradictory requirements, have unrealistic timelines or request an overly broad range of services which may not even apply to the project at hand. A preliminary meeting will allow the architect to ask questions and will help you identify those issues which might otherwise confuse submitting teams and/or inflate their proposed fees, saving you and them valuable time and effort trying to respond to those same issues from multiple sources after the RFP has been released.


A Request for Proposal is an important document when you are planning for a building or site development project. We invite you to take the time before finalizing the RFP to visit with us. It will improve the quality of your potential responses and will likely produce measurably increased value for the final project in return for a small investment of your time.