Re: RFPs and developers
From: John Faust (
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 15:49:27 -0800 (PST)
I think Me Barrett's advice is very good. Arm's lengths relationships may be
necessary in the strictly commercial or government world of contracting. But
you might want to think of your architect, engineer and developer as
adjuncts to your community. Thus developing a "long person-to-person
relationship" seems to be wise.

This isn't to say there is no room for precision and clarity about what you
"think" you want. Personally, I generally only understand what I "think" I
want after lots of attempts to document (write about) it. Much of that would
be content for an RFP. Still, the major problem with overly formal
approaches (including RFPs) is that they aren't always right initially or
necessarily understood. This has been the singular major source of waste in
government contracting--running open loop. If the RFP (or requirements
documents) were acknowledged as imperfect or approximate starting points
with expected alterations, then the waste wouldn't be so rampant. Sadly, in
a profit driven world, mistrust is the rule so there is little to fall back
on except legally binding contracts. My point is that there is nothing wrong
with precision as long as it is recognized as not necessarily accurate and
accommodations are built into the contracting framework.

Because of what I just said, I do disagree with the statement:

The Proposals you receive in response to your RFP usually form the
substantive basis for a contract between you and the developer or contractor
or architect or engineer, so a very specific and detailed proposal for a
specific price is your *best guarantee of a satisfactory end result*.
(emphasis mine)

A good cooperative relationship between practical parties will always be
better than one imposed by legal constraints. Of course, a good cooperative
relationship may not be easy to come by.


On Feb 19, 2008 8:39 AM, Michael Barrett <mbarrett [at]> wrote:

> You may have heard this opinion before.
> You are not the US Goverment and can afford to be, and need to be, much
> more friendly.  Go meet the top man (or woman) of your candidate developers
> first and find out if they are interested in doing something different from
> their standard development process.  At the end of the conversation you can
> ask them how they would feel about getting an RFP.  You are going to have a
> long person-to-person relationship about things that you care about deeply.
> Get it started on the right foot.
> Michael Barrett
> Shadowlake Village
> Blacksburg, VA

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