The RIBA president has sent letters to every government department, warning them not to accept unrealistically low tenders from architects

Sunand Prasad, who has already written to RIBA members to urge them not to work for uneconomic fee rates, is asking government clients to be aware that architects are tabling bids that might not allow them to carry out projects properly.

The letter, seen by Building, says: “The RIBA is concerned that commissioning authorities should not exploit the current economic situation to achieve short-term financial savings at the expense of long-term values.”

Prasad said he had had “encouraging responses” from departments, with one procurement officer saying his department would consider whole-life value when commissioning design.

Prasad said: “Architects have to show how they can add value. The more clients know about the services we offer, the better placed they are to set the right fee.”

James Berry, senior partner at HOK, said: “It’s a good idea. Whether it will have any effect or not, I don’t know. Everyone’s being squeezed, and if clients know they can get a good deal, then you suspect they will.”

Prasad said lawyers had warned him that his letter to architects could be seen as an attempt to influence the procurement process. But he added: “They offered to help us ‘deal with the issue’, so I think there was a touch of ambulance-chasing about it.”