Selecting an Architect

Request for Proposal Method

Selecting an architect may be the most important decision you make on your building project. It pays to take the time to make the right decision.

There are no hard and fast rules for the selection process, but it usually involves the following:

  1. Invite firms to submit information about their experience, qualifications and specialized abilities. Request resumes of key personnel, ask for references and follow up on them. You should provide each firm with pertinent information such as the scope of the work and budget guidelines. You can ask about fee schedules, but at this stage of the process, architects are not allowed (by MAA regulations) to provide sketches or cost estimates.
  2. Evaluate the submissions and develop a short list of three to five firms, depending on the size and complexity of your project. Consider using these criteria to make your choices:
    • Performance on previous projects (make sure to get and follow up on references from former clients)
    • Creativity
    • Availability of qualified personnel
    • Access to supporting resources
    • Ability to complete the project within your timelines
    • Managerial skills, working styles
  3. Interview representatives of firms on your short list. If possible, accompany the architects on a tour of the building or site to review the scope and requirements of the project.
  4. Rank the candidates and make your choice.
  5. Negotiate an agreement with the firm you have ranked the highest. Request a written outline of the project parameters, and review it with your architect.
  6. Notify unsuccessful competitors of your decision. Like all professionals, architects appreciate learning why their proposals were not accepted and the basis upon which you made your selection.

The MAA strongly encourages the use of the Quality Based Selection (QBS) to document the need for architectural services and to systematically choose the most appropriate firm based upon qualifications. For a detailed description of the steps for a QBS process, please refer to the following QBS guide.

QBS Guide

Design Competitions

In lieu of a Quality Based Selection Process, a sponsor may elect to hold an architectural design competition. This involves some renumeration to competitors and requires a significant commitment in terms of time and effort on the part of both the competing architects and the sponsor. To ensure a fair and equitable process, competitions must be carried out in accordance with the guidelines for architectural competitions established and published by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada:

RAIC Guidelines for Architectural Competitions

Other Information for Selecting an Architect

How to Choose an Architect

Checklist of Services Provided by Architects

Selecting an Architect for Single Family Residential Projects

You don't require the services of an architect to build or renovate a single-family house or certain other small-scale projects, but it is a good idea for many reasons. Architectural design adds quality and value to your investment. As well, an architect can guide you through the design and construction process, and manage it on your behalf.

More information on selecting an architect for single family residential projects:

Choosing an Architect for Home Building or Renovations

For a list of architects available for single family residential projects, search "Residential Single" in "Area of Practice" in the Register of Firms, or see the list of architects here.