Qualifications Based Selection
John Ruskin (1819-1900) had a deep interest in and wrote about architecture. One of his quotations stated:
” No architecture is so haughty as that which is simple.”
Mr. Ruskin may have been the beginning of today’s Qualifications Based Selection (“QBS”) process. Most states, as well as the federal government, require the selection of a design professional to be based on the design professional’s qualifications. This is not true at the local level, where far fewer states prohibit local jurisditions from asking for fees. QBS prohibits governmental agencies in those states from soliciting fee proposals, and making selections based on fee. This process is intended to permit the governmental jurisdiction or agency to use objective criteria in their selection process. QBS permits the client and the design professional to discuss the specific requirements of the project, and to negotiate a fair fee for the effort required.
Mr. Ruskin said:
“There is hardly anything that can not be made or offered by someone at a lesser price. Those who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.
It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money…that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.
The Common Law of Business Balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot…it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.”
In today’s economy, it is often thought desirable or even necessary to get the lowest possible fee from a design professional, as it would be in buying a commodity or a piece of equipment. With money tight, the opposite is true. The right design professional will take the time and effort to create an efficient and “simple” building that also meets the client’s budget. Mr. Ruskin’s comments remain as relevant today as they did when he wrote them.
Featured image is from the ACEC website.