Column: RFP: the most important document


Commentary by Eric McKinney

The RFP, or request for proposal, is the most critical instrument associated with a community’s maintenance and capital improvement projects, hands down. 

A comprehensive RFP establishes guidelines and expectations to the vendors submitting proposals for upcoming projects while also addressing essential close-out documents that will need to be collected from the vendor awarded the contract.

Properly assembled RFPs provide scope of work (a general summary of the project, including  location of the community), specifications (defines requirements for materials, installation procedures and quality/performance expectations), expected start and completion dates, warranty, payment schedules, supporting documents (community map, architectural drawings, photos, etc.), request for vendor information (current certificate of insurance and required licenses, if not currently on file) as well as language addressing required close-out documents (list of materials used, copies of permits and inspection reports, completion photos, etc.).

Requesting project close-out documents within an RFP establishes protocol, up front, for collecting this information from vendors, ensuring vital project documents become part of the historical record of the completed work, regardless of who is managing and who is on the board.

Although what I’ve covered here sounds like the basics of what an HOA/COA management company should provide to its communities, the truth is this:  The RFP process is too often taken for granted by management. 

This, unfortunately, means managers rely too heavily on vendors and contractors (who are in the business to make money working for HOAs and COAs) rather than managers doing their own homework and working with their boards to dictate to the vendors and contractors through a viable RFP. 

Lack of a functioning RFP also means items such as material lists, warranties, inspection reports and even vendor insurance information may never get requested to be submitted nor collected from vendors – a travesty for any community. 

The RFP should take front and center for all community projects.  Clear and concise RFPs set parameters, save time for association boards and vendors as well as provide a clear path to successful projects. 

Eric McKinney is a 28-year veteran of the HOA/COA industry and managing partner of Cambri Management Services, Contact him at or 317-732-7720.


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