While the CAA does its best to represent the views of its member firms, the positions expressed below may not fully express the views of each individual firm. The positions are a reflection of the input provided by representatives of member firms plus discussions held within our advocacy committees.

Work Procurement



Service Delivery

 Pricing and Valuations


Bundling of Projects

Position statement

The CAA would prefer that bundling of design projects (such as schools or hospitals) be kept to a minimum since bringing together disparate projects in one proposal call can have unintended consequences for all stakeholders. We encourage public owners to carefully weigh each situation separately before choosing whether to bundle, and/or how many projects to include in a bundle.

Keeping projects separate (or in very small bundles) enables the work to be shared amongst firms of different sizes, sustains the design industry, and ultimately keeps more Albertans employed.

Supporting comments / additional information

When considering bundling design projects together, the CAA encourages owners take into account the following:

  • Customized solutions – Individual projects allow for customized approaches appropriate to the specific context of each site. Local context can be leveraged for maximum impact.
  • Design excellence – customized solutions have greater potential to meet design excellence guidelines.
  • Competition – Individual projects (or smaller bundles) may attract more competition from consultants, bringing greater value to the owner and end users.
  • Reduction in number of firms able to respond – When projects are bundled, as an owner you are pushing more of your infrastructure spending to a specific category of firm. Thus there are fewer firms able to respond to proposal calls.
  • Work leaving the province – Bundled projects create the potential for more work to go outside of the province, undermining our provincial economy.
  • Regional impacts – When local or regional firms take on local projects, there can be positive multiplier effects of spending in their areas, keeping the tax dollars invested and working in the region. Bundling has the potential to re-direct the dollars outside the region (for example when a firm in one part of the province gets a bundle for work done in another part of the province, rather than local firms who subsequently hire local engineers and contractors who spend their earnings in their own region).
  • Smaller bundles – regionally bundled projects may make more sense economically.

Consultant evaluations

Consultant evaluations in the form of debriefing at project close-out are helpful, however due to the high degree of variability and subjectivity, the CAA does not feel they should be used in the selection process.

Position statement

Supporting comments / additional information

If consultant evaluations are to be used, the client needs to share “industry standard” benchmarks so that the consultant can know where they rank.

Evaluations need to allow for factors beyond the control of the design team, such as the quality of performance of the construction contractor and specific site issues beyond the control of the design team.

The evaluations should include a review with the consultant and an appeal mechanism.

To limit subjectivity, there should be a robust, structured training program for the evaluators.

Debriefing process

Position statement

The CAA believes that a robust debriefing process for unsuccessful proponents of proposal calls (RFEOI, RFQ or RFP) will allow consultants opportunities to understand the client’s procurement process and provide better proposals in the future, more closely aligned with owners’ needs.


Ultimately, the timely, relevant and specific feedback will build a stronger industry more capable of delivering quality services.

A robust debriefing process would include:

  1. Total number of respondents to the proposal call
  2. Name of successful bidder
  3. Confirmation that the bid was compliant (if non-compliant, list reasons for non-compliance)
  4. Consultant’s total score (eg. 117.4)
  5. Impact of fee assessment on the selection process scoring.
  6. Other total scores (eg. the scores of all responsive submissions are, anonymously: 139.3, 133.7, 117.4, 150.6, 73.3)
  7. Breakdown of consultant’s score by category in the evaluation matrix
  8. List areas for improvement by areas scored
  9. Comments on RFP process (from consultant back to the client)

Desired timeline for debriefing:
Debriefing should take place within a month of the completion of the selection process.

Supporting comments / additional information

The process used for debriefing unsuccessful respondents to proposal calls varies widely across the province, both within the public sector and the private sector.

CAA members have the opportunity to participate in various types of debriefing processes and have pooled their experiences to identify best practices as those that result in better communication and more successful projects.

Design work within proposals


Position statement

Design work should not be required within proposals, unless compensated in accordance with the guidelines of design competitions. See our position on design competitions.

Supporting comments / additional information

Any designs that might be suggested within a proposal would be hampered by lack of access to stakeholders and the collaborative process that informs and inspires outstanding solutions.

Appropriate process:

  • Respondents to provide examples from their portfolio that describe their approach to similar building exteriors and interiors (references to existing work)
  • Respondents to outline their methodology for how they would approach working with the client – beyond the typical steps and process, to what their creative approach might be on this project.
  • The “how to” approach, rather than a suggested design.

Design competitions


Position statement

According to Alberta legislation, architects are not permitted to engage in design work without remuneration. To do so would put them at risk of losing their license to practice.

Design Competitions are a unique approach to finding design solutions for a sponsor’s requirements. Architects may not take part in an architectural competition unless the conditions of the competition are in accordance with the standards approved by the AAA Council.

Supporting comments / additional information

The Alberta Association of Architects (AAA) and Architecture Canada (RAIC) have outlined the regulations to which architects must adhere. Any public or private organization considering implementing a design competition should refer to these guidelines.

RAIC web page on competitions

Fees and scope of services


Position statement

The Consulting Architects of Alberta have partnered with the Consulting Engineers of Alberta to develop a document that provides insight and guidance to clients and member firms as they define the anticipated scope of work and determine an appropriate fee for services.

Supporting comments / additional information

Click here to download a copy of the Scope of Services document.



Position statement

The CAA believes that all government design/build sponsored projects, regardless of size, should have an appropriate honorarium for any professional design consulting work explicitly required or implied.  Through the honoraria, design teams need to recover their payroll costs plus their overhead (salary plus additional payroll costs) plus have a bonus to compensate for the balance of fee put at risk through DB and P3 pursuits.

Industry-standard documentation


Position statement

The CAA encourages the use of industry standard documentation wherever possible. Use of supplementary conditions to specify the unique particulars of each project is acceptable.

There are standard RFPs, and contracts available such as those based on RAIC Document 6 and the CCDC suite of documents.

Supporting comments / additional information

The use of industry standard documents reduces the risk of confusion, error, litigation and unnecessary cost. Deviating from these standards creates an environment that is counterproductive, leading to costly inefficiencies for all parties.


Appropriate professional liability insurance and liability limitations

Position statement

The CAA recommends that the amount of professional liability insurance required by clients be correlated with the scale, complexity and risk of the project; normally between $500,000 and
$2,000,000 per claim and aggregate.

The professional liability terms in Client Architect agreements should:

  • Be clearly defined to limit the responsibility of the design team to negligent actions, negligent errors or negligent omissions.
  • Limit the professional liability of the architect to the client to the per claim insurance limit required by the agreement on most projects
  • Limit the professional liability of the architect to the client to the amount of fees paid on studies and small projects
  • Clearly define that the architect is not responsible for consequential damages
  • Clearly define that the architect is not responsible for the client’s legal expenses

Supporting comments / additional information

Clients are encouraged to carry a construction contingency appropriate to the scale, complexity and risk of the project.


Number of shortlisted proponents


Position statement

The CAA recommends that during the pursuit phase of a project, clients should keep the number of firms in the short-list to a workable minimum (often just 3 to 5 proponents). In Design Build or P3 projects, we recommend the short list be kept to just three proponents.

Supporting comments / additional information

In our discussion with other industry partners, municipal and provincial owners, we have learned that the best long-term results for the owners come when the short lists are consistently restricted to 3 to 5 proponents. In consideration of the cost of compensating unsuccessful proponents, and the effort required through the pursuit phase in Design Build and P3 projects, CAA recommends 3 proponents.

New West Partnership trade Agreement


Position statement

The CAA is supporting our colleagues at Consulting Engineers of Alberta who have identified many unintended consequences of the NWPTA and are advocating for changes that would see engineering and architectural services removed from the agreement.



Public, Private Partnerships

Position statement

The CAA recognizes that P3s offer an appealing financing solution for certain types of projects, and are therefore likely to be around as a delivery model for years to come. However, we caution that they are not always the best solution, may have negative impacts on design and ultimate usability, and may not necessarily be in the long term interest of the owners and end users.

Supporting comments / additional information

When a P3 model is to be used, the CAA looks for the following elements:

  • Fair honoraria and a fair procurement practice.
  • Consulting firms participating in the bridging phase should not be able to participate in the pursuit phase.
  • Shortlist limited to 3 proponents.
  • An appropriate time frame for both the pursuit phase and the project delivery phase.
  • Appropriate access to stakeholders / end users throughout the project.



Qualifications Based Selection

Position statement

Above all other methods, the CAA advocates for Qualifications Based Selection of architectural services. We feel that QBS provides the client with the best experience and end product.


Supporting comments / additional information

QBS is a system that chooses an architect on the basis of professional qualifications and competence. This procedure will provide your project with the best-qualified architect with whom you can develop a professional relationship. Such a relationship is very important for the kind of in-depth discussion which allows the architect and the engineers to deal effectively with issues on your behalf.

Choosing the most qualified team and then working collaboratively to define solutions within the available resources is far preferred to competing on price.

Risk Allocation


Position statement

The CAA believes that project partners should strive for fair and reasonable risk allocation, using RAIC Document 6 as a standard reference.

Supporting comments / additional information

Should a consultant sign a document with un-insurable clauses, this action would negate the professional liability insurance coverage intended to cover these issues, placing both parties to the agreement in peril.