Request for Information (RFI) in construction – free email example
What is request for information?
Request for information (RFI) is widely used in construction once specific information is missing, misleading or clarification is needed. Usually RFI communication can happen between general contractor, subcontractor, designer, client and other parties which are involved in projects. RFI always carries important information which is necessary for better project performance and they are used to clarify following:
- Specifications and guidelines for construction
- Management of materials
- Contractual obligations
- Building design drawings
- Plan for construction management
- Existing Conditions
Why should RFI be used?
A good RFI should always carry important information about the project. In case if something is missing in drawings, Contractor can then send an RFI to the designer. Designer then should make a response with a detailed answer.
Here is an example.
This is a potential example of an RFI between contractors and a designer in potential tender stage or execution phase sent by email.
Example of an RFI
We reviewed project documentation and there were some uncertainties or clarifications.
- In Room 1024 there is missing information about finished floor material. In Room 1025 there is Oak carpet. Do we have to use Oak there also? If not please specify what material should be used!
- Between apartment 86 and 87 there isn’t any specification about a wall. Should we take the same specification the same as between other apartments?
- There is a missing drawing of how the new development will connect with the existing building. Could you please send us a drawing?
- I have added a sketch of the truss connection of how we would like to execute it. It is easier for us to execute it that way it will save us production time and material costs. Thus the better price offered from us. Please review if such changes are acceptable.
Could you please send us an answer within 5 working days.
Lets now unwrap this example.
- If RFI’s are sent during the tender stage and they make sense your client will value that, hence that will show your confidence and knowledge. But if RFI’s are sent after tender where crucial information has been missed this then can affect project outcome, finances and relations.
- Avoid sending one RFI per question. Instead try to send as few RFI’s as possible, while maintaining more questions in it, in our example we have 4 questions. Time is critical and of course everyone wants to get their answers as quickly as possible. But if you will bombard with loads of RFI’s your other party may get lost. Instead, once you start to review documentation write down all the questions and maybe send out RFI in a day or two when you have gathered enough questions.
- Make each question as short as possible, with clearly pointing out your problem, question or clarification.
- Include possible answers in question. Construct the question so that the other party in best case can answer with yes or no wherever it is possible.
- If you see some improvements suggest these changes as early as possible hence with time changes are getting more complicated and costlier.
- Set timing! Every RFI should contain when you want to receive an answer. This will allow the other side to understand the importance of RFI. Also contract agreements always include information on how many days RFI’s should be answered. If a contract doesn’t contain such information then there are probably guidelines designed by the government. Usually RFI’s should be answered between 5-10 days.
For the example above I would probably use following subject line:
Subject line: RFI – [number of RFI sent], [project name or number] [problem you have] for example “RFI – 1, Green Gardens, preliminary questions during tender.
Subject line is as important as RFI itself. In most cases RFI’s are sent by email and every RFI contains crucial information. It is important to organize RFI’s and make one template in the company of how any person should send RFI’s. In our case we have made a subject line which clearly points out which RFI this is for the project Green Gardens and what questions RFI are containing. The thing is that once the project is up and running and you are in the middle of the project you may have many RFI’s. By staying organized and following one internal template you can easily track and access your old RFI’s once this information is needed.
RFI’s are good instruments for requesting critical or missing information for a project. During the tender stage well structured RFI’s can show confidence to clients.
Every company should make their own template and then every person should follow that. By staying organized it will be easier to find and filter correct RFI’s.