How to Write an Effective RFI Part 1: When and Why

Requests for information are an important element of project management. Cost savings can be realized as a result of good requests for information. Likewise avoidable losses and delays can be caused by failure to request information or clarification.

What is an RFI?

A Request for Information (RFI) is a means for obtaining information from the engineer, owner, designer or construction manager. An RFI’s purpose is get clarification on contract documents, design intent, or provide missing information needed for a contractor to complete work on the project.

When to write an RFI

1) The best time to submit an RFI is prior to the bid!
Most bids will provide a cut-off date for when pre-bid questions can be submitted.
Ensures everyone is bidding on the same criteria.
Provides opportunity for design changes and costs to be incorporated at bidding time.

2) After project award and notice to proceed.
Write RFIs as early in the project as possible.
Early RFIs get quicker responses. Reviewers will have less documentation to review.
Work for early resolution to problems.
Write an RFI as soon as you see a potential problem, conflict, missing information, etc. Do not procrastinate!
It is never too late to write an RFI. When necessary you can submit an RFI while work is ongoing.

Why write an RFI?

1) If it could reduce time or costs for you or another party.
2) Contract documents contain incomplete, contradictory or missing information.
3) To prevent emergencies which can lead to work stoppages during fabrication or installation.
4) To protect yourself from potential delays and cost increases due to design errors, omissions, and other problems in the contract documents.

Where to send the RFI

1) Directly to the entity you are contracted with.
2) A supplier or subcontractor will typically submit an RFI to the general contractor (GC).
Note: GC should review the RFI, answer directly if possible, or submit to the reviewing party.

Tips and Tools
Coming soon I will have more posts on how to write an effective RFI including tips and tools for writing effective RFIs.

Check out my post on RFI Checklists for tips on processing and organizing RFIs.

RFI Resources

 

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