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Big time tendering for a small time extension

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letters

As a practice whose workload is 90 per cent public sector commissions, we are well used to joining in the Dutch Auction of Compulsive Competitive Tendering. However, I offer the following example, probably a 'yellow pages' enquiry, as an example of how this method of selecting professional advice has been adopted for the most modest of projects. I have removed the gentleman's name and address, but the letter is'verbatim'. I have also included our reply:

Request for tender ...

I am intending to have an extension to my property (single-storey garage, porch and kitchen) to be built and completed during this year or next (2000/01). I will be tendering for architectural services to undertake the design and planning for construction and am considering including your company amongst the tenders. I would be grateful of youcould provide the following information:

What services are you able to offer? For example, do youprovide a planning service, including design, gaining planning permission and obtaining building regulation approval? Do you also provide 'overseeing' and inspection services during the construction?

Are you able to provide a free quotation?

Do you offer a firm price quotation? If not, is the final price likely to vary significantly from the quotation? Do you offer a price limit to a percentage variance?

Are you able to offer a detailed breakdown of the price quotation?

What accreditation and/or association membership do you hold?

How long has your business been established?

What guarantees and warantees do you offer?

Are you able to providereferences of recently completed work?

Any other relevant information

Polite reply to request ...

Thank you for your letter of 9 March 2000. I am afraid we do not tender for works as you describe. As I am sure you will appreciate, by the time we have met you, taken your brief and calculated the fee, we have already invested an appreciable amount of time. We are then guaranteed to be beaten on cost by somebody working from their back bedroom.

For what is a major investment on your property, I would respectfully suggest that your choice of architect should be driven by quality and value for money, not cost, perhaps a personal recommendation from a friend, neighbour or colleague?

J R Le Good, BBG Architects, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

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