Construction Request For Information (RFI) Template [Free Download]
Construction projects are complex. They involve many moving parts and stakeholders. It’s not uncommon for there to be uncertainties regarding the various aspects of a construction project. Construction RFIs exist to address these uncertainties and help stakeholders receive the information they need to complete the job successfully.
RFIs are simply requests for information. Yet, there’s nothing simple about them if they’re not handled properly.
According to a survey, there is an average of 9.9 requests for information for each $1 million of construction worldwide. This translates to an average cost of $859,680 dedicated to RFIs.
Let’s look at the RFI process and how to manage it efficiently for the benefit of all project stakeholders.
PS Keep reading for a handy Construction RFI Template.
What is a Request for Information (RFI) in construction?
A construction Request for Information (RFI) is a document used to share and further scope out project details amongst construction, design, and engineering companies and professionals – and to get clarification on a specific part of a construction project such as the construction plans, specifications, contract clauses, and building standards.
The general use case for a construction RFI is to get more detail about aspects of the project which cannot be easily interpreted from the original plans and to make substitutions where required.
Generally, RFIs are issued more often at the beginning of a project, such as the design or bidding stage. The inconsistencies that are addressed before work starts on site will help reduce delays during the construction phase.
RFI also serves as a record of communication between the involved parties regarding the information requested and provided. This is invaluable in case of a dispute.
How is a construction RFI different from an RFP, RFQ, or RFT?
Request for Proposal (RFP)
RFP is a document that announces a project, describes it, and solicits bids from qualified contractors to complete it.
Request for Quotation (RFQ)
RFQ is a form of correspondence between project owners seeking pricing information from vendors capable of fulfilling their specific needs.
At a high level, an RFQ might seem similar to an RFP. However, these types of correspondences have different use cases. Companies issue RFQs when they know exactly what they want whereas RFPs allow for a greater level of input from vendors regarding specifications.
Request for Tender (RFT)
RFT is an opportunity for potential suppliers to submit an offer to supply goods or services against a detailed tender - usually as sealed bids - in a structured format.
Each of these terms may be made as either a precursor to a construction RFI (when the RFI is part of a project) or as a subsequent step (when the RFI is in the initial phase of a client hiring a company).
What does the Construction RFI process look like?
Given that construction RFIs are typically meant to clarify things, they must be structured in a way that avoids additional confusion.
The most significant factor is that everyone in your company must understand the importance of the RFI management process, and be aware of your company’s related policy and procedures.
It is easy to have a verbal conversation with a client or contractor to seek clarification. However, if you don’t have that information documented you may be liable for the additional costs involved in case of a dispute over what was agreed.
Using a well-designed RFI template ensures that it contains all the relevant information for the project.
How to write a construction RFI?
Define the problem: An RFI should always begin with a clear statement of the problem that needs to be resolved. Additionally, an RFI should focus on one specific problem, as this is more likely to receive a satisfactory response.
Provide a solution: As experts, subcontractors typically have excellent ideas for solving challenges throughout a project. Use the RFI process as an opportunity to present strong solutions to problems that come up.
Offer context: Make sure to include any additional information that is necessary to fully understand the problem. Many RFIs are returned to the subcontractor simply because there is not enough context to fully answer the question.
Include visuals: Attaching key visuals, like building plans or photographs, can help clarify the situation concretely, making it easier for the general contractor to resolve the issue.
Here are some standard elements most construction RFIs include:
- Project details, including the name, address, and any other identifying information
- Date the RFI was submitted and the deadline for a response (i.e. not enough to just say “ASAP”)
- The addresser’s and the addressee’s details, including company name and contact
- Unique RFI number
- Subject name or RFI title and a brief description
- Information requested and why
- A detailed description of the RFI
- Description of any attached documents
Construction RFI Template
Using a template for the RFI process provides consistency and improves the process in general. Looking for a template for construction RFIs? Download our free template here:
We hope this article and the accompanying template have been useful. RFI has multiple uses within the construction industry. Keep in mind, however, that its overall purpose is to gather supplemental information or project details. An RFI should not be used as an outline communication method during the course of a project, for submitting scheduling plans, seeking approval on changes to the means and methods of a project, or as a replacement for verbal communication.