Appendix B
Guidelines and Checklists: Issuing Requests for Proposals (RFPs)

This guideline describes an 11-step process for the selection of a firm to provide architectural services.  The included checklists describe recommended items that the client or owner should consider when issuing a request for proposals (RFP). The checklists are based on principles commonly found in comparative selection or quality-based selection (QBS). For large or complex projects, a client or owner may decide that technical proposals are also required. The process for requesting and evaluating these technical proposals is described in Step 11 and, if required, should occur following Step 6.

The guideline and templates have been provided by the Ontario Association of Architects.

Note 1: An excellent primer for choosing and engaging an architect can be found on the website of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada at

Note 2: Another reference, with sample forms for use with a quality-based selection process, may be downloaded from the Ontario Association of Architects website:

Note 3: Most of the provincial and territorial associations of architects include within their websites information on finding and retaining an architect and how to find, select, and engage an architect using a quality- or qualification-based selection (QBS) method.

1. Describe the scope of work (refer to QBS Template #1):

2. Establish policies, procedures and time frame for the selection process (QBS Template #2).

The client should:

3. Compile list of architects to be invited to submit Expressions of Interest:

4. Request Expressions of Interest (refer to QBS Template #3).

The following steps should be taken:

5. Evaluate Expressions of Interest, ensuring that you:

6. Establish a short list, by:

Note: Decide whether or not the definition and the complexity of the project justify requiring short-listed architects to submit technical proposals or to proceed directly to interviews. (Refer to Step 11 below on procedures for obtaining technical proposals.)

7. Inform short-listed architects (refer to QBS Templates #4, #5 and #6).

You should:

8. Interview short-listed architects.

The purpose of the interviews is to:

Direct interaction between the client/user and the architect is essential for the development of a design that fully meets the owner’s needs; therefore, it is important for the project’s intended users to participate in the interviews. Interviews may take place in the offices of short-listed firms or, alternatively, in the client’s own premises.

The client should:

9. Ranking the short-listed architects:

10. Negotiate an agreement with the highest-ranked architect:

The client should develop a detailed, comprehensive scope of services jointly with the highest-ranked architect, following which the architect will submit a detailed project work plan (a plan that itemizes the schedule for architectural services, key milestones and deliverables), listing consultants and the role and responsibilities of all members of the design and client teams.

See Chapter 3.9 – Architectural Services and Fees for a complete list of architectural services.

  • Checklist: Scope of Services
  • Checklist: Supplemental Architectural Services

(Reimbursable expenses and all applicable taxes are additional and should not be considered in the evaluation. If these expenses are included in the evaluation, reference to this inclusion should be specifically stated in the RFP response as a separate line item(s)).

11. Technical Proposals:

Follow these additional procedures if the definition and complexity of your project justifies requiring short-listed architects to submit technical proposals. Be aware that the preparation and evaluation of technical proposals will require the commitment of significant expense and time for each short-listed architect as well as for the client’s technically experienced staff (or if they are not available, the engagement of specialist consultants).

If you have concluded that technical proposals are required, ensure that the request:

(Advanced capability to review submitted information gives the best possible assurance that consistent and fair comparisons between candidates will be made.)

The review of technical proposals should precede interviews (Steps 7 and 8), unless the client is already familiar with all the short-listed architects, their staff and their consultants, in which case the client may determine that interviews will not be necessary. Ensure that the technical proposals have been reviewed and scored before the interviews take place, leaving time for clarifications during the interview, and incorporate the results of the review and ranking of technical proposals (recorded on QBS Templates #7, #8, and #9) into overall ranking.