How to Write an Effective RFI Part 2: Three Cs

This is a continuation of How to Write an Effective RFI Part 1: When and Why

Three Cs of an effective RFI

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Correct

Clear

  • An RFI should be written so that anyone without prior knowledge of the situation can clearly understand the question.
  • Make the RFI self-contained as much as feasible, attach sketches, contract drawings or other references with the RFI document.
  • Exclude data that is not directly relevant to the information requested.
  • The goal is to make the RFI easy to understand and written in a way that a complete and final answer can be provided by the reviewer.
  • A poorly written RFI will often lead to more questions and require multiple responses between the reviewer and questioning party.

Concise

  • Use as few words as possible to describe the situation and ask a question.
  • Read and re-read the RFI, edit and remove any unnecessary words and condense language when practical.

Correct

  • Thoroughly review the plans and specifications prior to writing and submitting an RFI. Do not ask a question when the answer is already contained in the contract documents. Contradicting information can often be resolved by referencing the order of precedence.
  • Double check references to contract drawing numbers, sections, details and specifications. Typos cause confusion and can make the question unclear or inaccurate.
  • Ensure all statements are accurate. Avoid using statements that are opinions, assumptions or generalizations that may not be true and accurate.

Recommended RFI Outline

This is the structure I use when composing an RFI

  1. State what the drawing says.
    1. Reference the specific contract drawing(s) and detail(s).
    2. Quote the related project specification when applicable.
  2. State the problem.
    1. Be specific. What is impacted? Where exactly is the location?
    2. Include sketches, photos, or contract drawing markups.
  3. Ask for a solution.
    1. The best default option is to let the designer provide the solution.
    2. You may propose an idea if you have seen the same problem on other projects or have a specific preferred solution in mind that will save you time or costs.
  4. Closing statement.
    1. Please advise which option is correct.
    2. Please advise if this is acceptable.
    3. Please provide clarification or alternate detail.
    4. There may be added costs if [XYZ happens].

 

Example

Unclear and wordy RFI
We are under contract with ABC General Contractor to provide the structural steel for Building Z and in the process of detailing we found a discrepancy on the drawings that is delaying us from finishing our submittal drawings. Per the contract drawings on sheet S03 section A the beams are shown as W8x10, on section B the beams are shown as W10x12, can you clarify which beam size is the correct one to use since they both say something different?

Same RFI, clear and concise
At Building Z, drawing S03 section A shows the beams as W8x10 and section B shows W10x12, please advise which size should be used.

See RFI Example #1 for another example of editing an RFI to be more succinct.

RFI Resources

 

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