Best Practices for Construction RFI (Request for Information)
Best Practices for Construction RFI (Request for Information)

Best Practices for Construction RFI (Request for Information)


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Whenever completing construction projects, numerous administrative processes will be performed if you desire the project to be finished successfully. Request for Information (RFI) is one of the methods that must be prioritized since it is regularly present in construction projects. RFIs might request information, yet there’s nothing easy and simple about it, primarily if it wasn’t handled properly.

Construction RFIs typically come into play at several points in the construction process whenever managing construction projects. Oftentimes, contractors even submit a Request for Information during bidding to better understand the project’s details. RFIs are being used to document concerns about particular materials, seek more information, and recommend a change of components.
Let’s start to discover the major purpose of an RFI, including its different types and some of the best tips in creating it.

What is an RFI in Construction?


In construction, the Request of Information (RFI)’s main purpose is to eliminate ambiguities, resolve information gaps, and share and capture specific decisions amidst the project’s course. The construction RFIs is a formal written process where all parties, including designers and contractors, will clarify information gaps in a construction document. Also, project leaders and subcontractors will submit RFIs in written form to retrieve some information from a construction, design, or engineering professional. Hence, all construction project participants have a solid understanding of RFIs, how they work, and how they are used properly.

Moreover, giving prompt and having complete answers to RFIs will help a construction project stay within budget and on-time. Timely responses are also provided to ensure that the builders establish the edifice according to the specifications given. In actuality, construction RFIs commonly arise in one of these three scenarios cited below:

  • When somebody proposes an alteration or substitution
  • When somebody needs further clarification and additional information
  • When somebody distinguishes a deficiency or a problem
  • When somebody wanted to clarify the different aspects of a project
  • When somebody wanted to obtain more details in every project aspect that aren’t easy to interfere

RFIs are often utilized in conjunction with other documents like the following listed below:

  • Request for Tender (RFT)
  • Request for Proposal (RFP)
  • Request for Quotation (RFQ)

Construction RFIs are critical in every construction process because they influence the quality, safety, risks, budget, and liability. How contractors and other involved participants handle construction RFIs can greatly impact whether the project comes within budget and time. 

Types of Construction RFIs


Presently, there are more than a dozen major types of RFIs in construction. Here are some of the common types of RFIs.

  • Design Change – this RFI usually seek to revise the designs to fix a construction mistake or facilitate construction
  • Design coordination – this RFI involves communicating, organizing, and coordinating the designs and their associated documents in all project participants.
  • Constructability Issues – this RFI often arises when the construction documents articulate a particular contractor’s design believes to be infeasible.
  • Design Clarification – with this RFI type, the requester often seeks more details about the design to better know and understand the details, especially on how they relate to the project itself.
  • Construction Coordination – this particular category of RFIs covers requests to coordinate and organize construction-related schedules, procedures, and safety items.
  • Change in the Process or Method – this classification of RFI arises whenever project managers want to change a particular installation technique or building.
  • Timing and Phasing – this type of RFIs occurs whenever builders have to change the cycle of construction activities due to labor or resource constraints.
  • Material Change – in this type of RFI, most requesters seek to use different materials in contrast to the construction documents’ specifications.
  • Deleted Scope – the RFIs seek to eliminate work from the project
  • Site Conditions – this RFI typically emerges when builders have discovered discrepancies between the site conditions in the document and the actual site conditions.
  • Incomplete Specs and Plans – this RFI usually points out mistakes or omissions in the specifications and plans.
  • Value Engineering – this RFI category seeks to make alterations or changes to minimize costs, enhance quality, and improve efficiency.
  • Utility Conflict – this type of RFI is used when utility lines like power wires and water pipes stand in the way of continuing with construction as initially planned.
  • Other conflicts and issues – this particular category tends to cover other RFI types that may show up like certifications and inspections, requests related to warranties, and non-design documents.

Whatever the type of RFI is, it is best to start with the question that needs to be addressed. The wording must be concise, clear and should leave very little room for confusion. Once the problem is started and punctuated clearly, it is essential to establish context around the chosen question. 

Best Practices and Tips for Producing Effective Construction RFIs


By merely establishing effective construction RFIs processes at the beginning of the project, friction, delay, and expenses are reduced. Project leaders have to specify RFI procedures in the contract to ensure that every member of the team is aware of this. However, RFIs usually cause frustration for both issuers and responders. By following some of the reasonable guidelines listed below, preventing this frustration is easy. 

  • Devote enough time during pre-construction to understand and review construction documents. Make sure also to submit RFIs months before breaking into the ground. 
  • Establish a detailed process for the project and the construction team. Make sure every participant follows it.
  • Categorize RFIs by significance and consider instituting a system that will rank RFIs by the level of urgency and importance.
  • Make sure to have a system for growing unresolved RFIs particularly when it piles up suddenly.
  • Before writing RFIs, review first the project’s contract documents to verify the answer to your question. Make sure the solutions do not exist yet.
  • Use a standardized RFI form and make sure to assign RFI numbers sequentially.
  • Pick a name for every RFI that is different from other RFI titles.
  • Write RFIs concisely and clearly.
  • Make sure that RFIs ask relevant questions. Never use the process to express opinions, voice a disagreement, or inform the parties for a future change.
  • Ideally, propose a solution and offer at least three options. Doing so, the engineer and architect only have to choose one.
  • Don’t try to make the engineer or architect look bad. Make sure to adopt a neutral tone.
  • In every RFI, ask only one to two questions.
  • If possible, provide money-based estimates for the RFI’s impact. Other experts often argue against this idea of doing this instead of reassuring workers to wait until they obtain the response from the RFIs.
  • Once the price tag is attached, the designer might be reluctant to make some recommendations.
  • Make sure to specify all the needed information and details to facilitate the response.
  • Make sure to request data as color names, installation techniques, and part numbers.
  • Cultivate personal relationships between the members to head off any adversarial situations.

Moreover, if you are the project leader or the architect, you must respond cooperatively, promptly, and entirely to RFIs. By doing so, makes the project much better and will generate goodwill with other team members. Note that failing to respond to RFI is a colossal mistake.

Streamlining the RFI Process Using Project Management Software


Today, numerous construction companies are leveraging powerful tools in a software application designed for project management purposes. The objective is to track and facilitate all project plans and scheduling, including managing all project’s elements and the overall business in one centralized system.

RFI process is considered to be included in the design and management-oriented solutions. It has been conveyed that the software tool makes the RFI process much more comfortable and smoother to track alongside other fundamental aspects of the construction project. RFI costs are typically accumulated through a mix of professional and administrative activities. Hence, streamlining the administrative portion of RFIs using subcontractor scheduling software can help reducing admin costs. 

Here are other advantages of using the advanced software application intended for project management.

  • Cloud-based storage – users and anybody from the team can access files anywhere and anytime.
  • Easy and quick to start – the application is very user-friendly with features easy to navigate.
  • Team Productivity and Client collaboration – one of the most significant advantages of using this software tool is the increased productivity for all participating crew.
  • Time-tracking – every single element from the project can be tracked thoroughly, including the construction team, updates, and labor hours.
  • Highly flexible – another best benefit of using such software is it is flexible. Expect there will be flexibility in terms of features, learning, construction training, and scale, unlike other conventional application where there is a long term contract upon using the software.
  • Secure and reliable – the application has processes that ensure software availability almost 100% of the time, including the security of client data, access, and shareholders’ decisions.

Key Takeaways


RFIs are proven to help in construction structures properly and deliver customer satisfaction and high-quality projects. If RFIs aren’t answered promptly and thoroughly, this act of negligence might lead to costly reworks and major expenses waiting in the line. That is why responding and writing RFIs correctly can mean the significant difference between life and death.

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