A Request for Information (RFI) is a document used in construction when further clarification is needed regarding the project’s plans, drawings, agreements or other details that are required in order for work to proceed. RFIs are used once work is underway to clarify any gaps or confusion in the documents.
RFIs are very common in commercial construction, which is why it’s important to have an organized way of documenting and managing them. If not done so effectively, the RFI process can slow down the project’s work and lead to further expense and conflict – such as when plans are not being coordinated between the projects engineers, architects, and general contractors.
What is an RFI in Construction?
An RFI is a communication tool used during the course of a construction project and may be submitted by a general contractor, subcontractor or any party who has a question about a specific aspect of the construction project. They are essential when there is a set of drawings and an existing condition that don’t match.
RFIs may be used in the following situations, among others:
- When clarification or more information about the project is needed – an example includes questions about the design plans.
- When materials need to be substituted or altered – before materials can be changed, an RFI needs to be submitted in order to determine alternatives.
- When there is an issue with construction – an RFI can address issues with the project site, sequencing, delivery or other construction issues that arise.
RFIs are frequently used as supporting documentation for a change order request, but it should be clear they can be used to speed up the building process and/or reducing the price of material. At its core, RFI’s are supporting documentation that keep the build current.
How to Manage an RFI Log
Managing an RFI log is an important way to stay on top of any changes to construction as well as prevent project delays, expenses and potential lawsuits.
Thoroughly and clearly responding to RFIs is one of the best ways to ensure that the project stays on track. Incomplete responses only lead to further questions.
When writing an RFI, it’s helpful to use a standardized template that includes information about the project, a detailed description of the project’s problem or issue in question, and any attachments that may be useful for providing context, such as invoices, screenshots or photos of the work site.
Tracking RFIs are normally done in a basic Word document (or with construction software). Regardless of your method, it’s essential to stay organized. You may return to these documents throughout the course of construction and even once construction is completed (particularly if an issue arises), so staying up to date and organized is one way to keep everyone on the same page.
Do you have questions about RFIs or other construction processes or logs? Let us know. We’re always happy to help.
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