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How to Choose a History Architecture Consultant

Consultants can be very helpful to you in completing historic preservation projects. Their expertise can be invaluable, providing a rewarding experience for you or your community when planning historic preser-vation.

How Should I Begin to Select a Consultant?
 
Before you do anything else, define your project carefully in writing. Lists of consul-tants who work in Ohio are available at the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, though the office does not endorse or recommend any consultant. Investigate con-sultants enough to enable you to identify several who appear to meet your needs. Invite them to submit proposals for your project based on the written description you provide them with.

How Do I Judge Consultants?
 
You should consider the specific needs of your project as well as the consultants' individual fields of expertise. The final decision will be based on the competence, qualifications and capability of undertaking your historic preservation project. Always keep in. mind the qualifications necessary for your project, including demonstrated previous experience in similar endeavors. Each consultant's proposal should be evaluated to ensure that the firm is qualified for, understands and can com-plete your job. Compare acceptable pro-posals and select the consultant with the best proposal and best price.

How Do I Determine Whether A Consultant is Qualified?
  • A prospective consultant should have a healthy mix of education and experi-ence relevant to your project. Consid-eration should be given to consultants with a graduate degree in a closely related field; in some cases, significant work experience can substitute well for a graduate degree.
  • A prospective consultant should have the necessary experience, staffing and availability of technical and support services to complete the project.
  • For some projects, a consultant must meet specific professional qualifications. The Ohio Historic Preservation Office can assist with questions about what qualifications to specify for your project.
  • Especially for surveys and National Register of Historic Places nomina-tions, a consultant should demonstrate familiarity with the specific kinds of historic property types in the project area and the various tech-niques of historical research needed to complete the project.
  • Especially for compliance projects, in which the effect of undertakings on historic properties is determined in accordance with Section 16 of the National Historic Preservation Act, a consultant should be able to explain procedures and recommendations to you clearly so that you understand what is needed, why it is needed and how to evaluate and use the finished products and findings.

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Performance

  • Can the consultant demonstrate a record of satisfactorily completing projects? Have prospective consultants submit copies of relevant previ-ous work. Contact several clients from the list of references and ask whether reports and other documents were thorough, neat, submitted on time and otherwise acceptable.
  • Does the consultant have good communication skills and demonstrate an understanding of your project, needs and goals? The consultant should offer direct answers to all of your questions.
  • Has the consultant provided evidence that he or she is staying current with trends in his or her area(s) of expertise (e.g. by attending or participating in courses, conferences and workshops).

Cost

  • History/architecture consultants, like consultants in any other field, charge a fee for their services. Generally speaking, you can expect the cost of a consultant to be equal to what you would pay other professionals working an equivalent amount of time.

  • In the proposal, the consultant should clearly state the products that will be delivered for the cost proposed and present a time frame, with beginning and ending dates, including deadlines for any drafts you require.

The following checklists provide basic outlines for preparing and reviewing requests for proposals and reviewing products submitted by consultants. Tailor these to the specific needs of your project. The Ohio Historic Preservation Office can provide sample requests for proposals.

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Writing Requests for Proposals

Information Provided by Client
  • background/issues
  • project description
  • area characteristics
  • goal of project
  • scope of work
    • task outline
    • specific requirements
    • level of community input
  • products to be generated
    • number and nature of products
    • format requirements
  • presentations expected before, during, after project
  • time requirements and deadlines
  • pre-proposal conference (if any)
  • client responsibility/involvement selection criteria
  • client contact address/phone
  • proposal deadline: date and time
Information Requested from Consultant
  • qualifications required/requested
    • education (c.v. or resume)
    • meets professional qualifications
    • relevant previous work sample(s)
    • list of previous clients
    • samples of relevant previous work
  • methodology or approach
  • statement of products
  • schedule
  • cost (may be separate if requesting qualifications first)
  • references
Evaluating Proposals
  • establish review committee
  • use established selection criteria
    • qualifications meet requirements
    • previous experience relevant
    • methodology satisfactory
    • work samples satisfactory
    • staffing adequate for job
    • schedule reasonable
    • references satisfactory
    • cost competitive
  • use objective rating system
  • notify all applicants of decision
Project Monitoring
  • maintain regular contact with consultant
  • enforce deadlines
  • carefully review all submissions
  • content meets expectations
    • product neat, complete and organized
    • conclusions/recommendations well stated
    • graphics appropriate
  • coordinate with Ohio Historic Preservation Office
  • comply with submission requirements (if any)
    • consider furture use of products/findings
  • public education
    • presentation of results to client/public
    • dissemination of products/finding
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Specific Product Consideration

Historic Properties Survey/Inventory Report
  • research design
  • methodology
  • meetings/public participation
  • individual inventory forms and area maps
    • computer coded(if required)
  • evaluations of properties/area
  • bibliography
  • data management
    • location of original notes, negatives, etc.
    • state whether data computerized locally
  • describe report dissemenation
Design Guidelines
  • history of area or district
  • illustrated reveiw of architectural styles present in are or district
  • glossary of architectural terminology
  • description of local review process
    • role of commission/board
    • application forms/procedures
    • copy of local ordinace(s)
  • illustrated design guidance organized by interior and exterior architectural feature
National Register Nominations
  • completed nomination form
    • all sections completed
    • United States Geological Survey Map
  • b&w photos/color slides as required
Booklets, Tour Guides, Other
  • accuracy/quality of content
  • neatness and readability of narrative
  • appropriate graphics
  • well-designed product
  • includes sources of additional information.

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For more information see: "Using Professional Consultants in Preservation," Information series No. 26, 1994, available from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1785 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, 202/673-4296.


For more information about Choosing a History Architectural Consultant contact the Ohio Historic Preservation Office at 614/298-2000.

 


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