Construction Terms: Requests for Information


Continuing our Construction Terms series this week, we’re covering Requests for Information, more commonly known as RFI’s. If you missed our first article in this series, check out Construction Terms: Submittals to learn about the value and process of submittals in commercial construction.

What are RFI’s in Commercial Construction?

Requests for Information (RFI’s) are a standard communication tool used in the construction industry to request information or clarification from the project team. RFI’s can be submitted by any member of the project team, but they are most commonly used by the contractor or subcontractor.

RFI’s can help ensure that a construction project is completed on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards. However, it is also important to ensure that RFI’s are being used appropriately and that they do not cause unnecessary delays or expenses.

According to the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), RFI’s are a vital component of the construction process, as they help ensure that documents are interpreted and implemented correctly, and that the project meets the owner’s requirements and expectations. The CMAA recommends that owners establish clear procedures for submitting and responding to RFI’s, and that they monitor RFI activity to ensure that RFI’s are being used effectively and efficiently.

The purpose of an RFI is to seek clarification or to resolve discrepancies or uncertainties in construction plans, drawings, and specifications.

Streamlining the RFI Process in Construction

To ensure that RFI’s are being used appropriately for a commercial construction project, team members should take the following steps:

1. Establish Clear Communication Channels

The first step in ensuring that RFI’s are being used appropriately is to establish clear communication channels between the project team members. The team must be clear on the proper procedures for submitting and responding to RFI’s. This can help to prevent confusion and misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

2. Monitor RFI Activity

Monitor RFI activity on the project to ensure that they are being used appropriately and not causing unnecessary delays or expenses. By monitoring RFI activity, owners representatives can identify any issues or trends that may be affecting the project’s progress and take action to address them.

To track RFI’s effectively, it’s important to assign a unique identifier to each RFI. This can be a number or a code that can be used to identify the RFI throughout the construction process. By assigning a unique identifier to each, owners can easily track their status and ensure that they are being addressed in a timely manner.

Additionally, RFI’s can be tracked by type and priority to help prioritize which RFI’s need to be addressed first. This can be done using color codes or labels that help to identify which RFI’s are high priority, and which are low priority. By categorizing RFI’s, owners can ensure that the most critical RFI’s are addressed first, helping to avoid delays and additional costs.

3. Evaluate the Quality of RFI’s

Contractors should aim for high quality RFI’s, ensuring that they are clear, concise, and address the specific issues or questions that need to be resolved. This can help to minimize the number of RFI’s submitted and prevent confusion or misunderstandings. Construction teams should also ensure that RFI’s are written in a professional manner and are free of any unnecessary or irrelevant information.

4. Review and Approve RFI’s Promptly

RFI’s should be reviewed and responded to promptly to avoid delays in the construction process. Timely approval can help to ensure that the project stays on schedule and within budget. It is also important that the contractor submit RFI’s in a timely manner so that decision making isn’t rushed.

5. Use Technology to Streamline the RFI Process

Project teams can use technology, such as construction project management software, to streamline the RFI process and make it more efficient. This can help to reduce the time and effort required to submit and respond to RFI’s, which can help to keep the project on track. By using technology to streamline RFI’s, owners can also reduce the likelihood of errors or omissions in the process.

6. Ensure RFI’s are Necessary

Before submitting an RFI, it is important to ensure that it is necessary. Unnecessary RFI’s can lead to additional time and costs, as well as needless interruptions to the project team. Team members should make certain that all RFI’s are needed and are addressing specific issues or questions that cannot be resolved through other means.

7. Identify Trends and Patterns in RFI’s

Team members should also identify trends and patterns in RFI’s to help identify any issues that may be impacting the project’s progress. By identifying trends and patterns, owners can take corrective action to address any underlying issues or concerns that are causing RFI’s to be submitted in the first place.

8. Communicate Clearly and Effectively

Finally, it is important to communicate clearly and effectively with the project team to ensure that RFI’s are being used appropriately. Owners should ensure that all communication is clear, concise, and professional, and that all team members are aware of the proper procedures for submitting and responding to RFI’s.

RFI’s are an important tool for ensuring that construction projects are completed on time and within budget. However, they can also lead to additional costs and delays if they are not managed effectively.

Final Thoughts
RFI’s are an important communication tool in commercial construction projects. To utilize them properly, project teams should:

– Establish clear communication channels,
– Monitor RFI activity,
– Evaluate the quality of RFI’s,
– Review and approve RFI’s promptly,
– Use technology to streamline the process,
– Ensure RFI’s are necessary,
– Identify trends and patterns in RFI’s,
– Communicate clearly and effectively to ensure that RFI’s are being used appropriately.

By taking the necessary steps to ensure that RFI’s are being used effectively, teams can make sure the project is completed on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards. If you’re ready to engage with a general contractor that has solid processes in place for managing projects, contact us today!