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What is Request for Information (RFI) in Construction?

Hello Friends! Welcome to my blog Mad About Construction. My name is Dipak Varsani and I am the author of I am a Civil Engineer by profession and I started my engineering journey as a site engineer.

In this blog, we will look into What is RFI, the importance of it in Construction and other RFI related questions.

What is RFI in Construction?
What is RFI in Construction?

What is RFI in Construction?

Full form of RFI is Request for Information. A Request for Information is a standard process in construction to collect information in writing. Writing RFI and collecting the missing information or data is very important for good project management and it should be followed to minimise conflicts and issues. Construction documentation is the skeleton of any construction project and RFI is a vital construction document that assists in collecting the information from the authorised party or team in the construction project. RFI can also be used in other areas outside of construction. The missing information can also be requested in the form of a letter, but this might be difficult to track as it can get mixed with other matters. The list of unresolved RFIs can be raised in a meeting or an RFI reference can be used as a notification to advice on the delay of the project progress or completion caused by the delay or no-response to the RFI.

Who can raise an RFI in Construction?

It depends on the nature of the contract. Anyone involved in the construction project can raise an RFI to get the missing information or to get clarification. An RFI can be raised if any party involved in the contract requires more information or needs clarification on the terms stated in the contract or has a query relating to the drawing or has specification relating query. In short, RFI is not only limited to be useful to the contractor to communicate with the engineer, architect, consultant, project manager, any subcontractors, any consultants or client, but it can be used by anyone involved in the project by going through the correct procedure. The sole purpose of an RFI is to seek any missing information or confirmation of unspecified details.

Usually, it is the contractor or a subcontractor who writes an RFI to the relevant party, be it the architect, the engineers, the project manager, another subcontractor, any consultants or the client. In most of the cases, the contractor writes an RFI to the project manager in a specific format and then the project manager forwards it to the relevant party. The response received by the project manager is then forwarded back to the contractor.

For example, if you have received information from the project manager instructing to start the production of a particular construction element and the information received is either not sufficient or clear enough, you can write an RFI to the project manager. The project manager will confirm if the RFI raised is really necessary and respond or forward it to the relevant party accordingly, after checking if the issue has not already been addressed in the contract documents. Contract documents include particular and general conditions, construction standards of the relevant country, project specifications, drawings, bills of quantity (BOQ), schedules and so on. Depending on the information required to respond to the RFI, the project manager may also have to look into whether it is to be forwarded to the architect, the engineer, the quantity surveyor or the client. For instance, if the RFI is relating to something to do with the drawing, the architect would be the relevant party to assist in responding to the RFI and if the RFI is relating to something to do with BOQ, the quantity surveyor would be the relevant party to assist in responding to the RFI and so on and so forth. The relevant party would then assist in responding to the RFI and send the response to the project manager. The project manager will then review the response received to ensure it addresses all the queries in the RFI, once this has been completed, the project manager will forward the RFI response to the contractor.

If you are the main contractor and you have a domestic sub-contractor, then the RFI will be raised to you and you will forward it to the project manager. Then as mentioned above, once the project manager receives the response to the RFI, it will be sent to you so that you can forward it to your domestic subcontractor. If a subcontractor has been nominated in your project, the RFI can be sent directly to the project manager and the project manager will then follow up on the response to the RFI with the nominated subcontractor and the relevant party.

Sharing the RFI

You have to find out which party will be affected by the RFI and share the RFI and its response with the concerned party. This can be done by Email or any other means of communication. By sharing the RFI and its response with the concerned party, you will avoid any conflicts in the work implementation, which may cause re-works in the project.

For Example, if you need to write an RFI regarding a door, then you have to copy the same RFI and its response to the client, domestic contractor, nominated contractor etc. to keep them all on the same page. Not doing so may cause several repetitive works and extra costs due to poor communication. The workmanship of the work may also be affected.

How to write RFI?

Below is an example which will help you to understand the meaning of RFI (Request for Information). By referring to this example, you can learn how to write an RFI as it shows a detailed elaboration of a particular case and shows how all the points mentioned above will be applicable in a specific situation.

RFI-01:- RFI to provide the location of steps in the seawall foundation

Click on the link above to understand what RFI means in construction.

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