Construction RFI Guide & Templates
The Request for Information or RFI in construction is a critical form of documentation. This written process helps those involved in a project gain more clarity on contracts, drawings, specs, and more.
But if you’ve ever managed multiple RFIs on a project, you know how frustrating they can be.
In theory, RFIs help move projects forward and reduce costly errors. In practice, unfortunately, many construction professionals find requests for information to be a hurdle rather than helpful.
When RFIs Feel Like “Extra Work”
RFIs can be tough to streamline. Without a standard construction RFI template, for example, contractors must create them from scratch. This leads to a number of issues, including:
- Incomplete requests.
- Inability to track RFIs.
- Confused recipients.
- Wasted time.
- Delayed or incomplete responses
While a standard RFI template reduces these issues, there’s also the problem of how requests for information move from one stage to another. The best RFI form is useless without a functional tracking and accountability system.
Knowing how to write an RFI and effectively track RFI submissions greatly reduces a project’s paperwork.
How to Write an RFI
There are steps you can take to write an RFI in construction that is effective and efficient. Before you begin, however, make sure to thoroughly check your contract, plans, and specifications to make sure your question isn’t already answered.
Believe it or not, nearly 1 in 7 RFIs are “unjustifiable” according to one study by Navigant Consulting. This means the answer to the request for information was already in existing documentation. Talk about a waste of time!
Once you’re certain you don’t already have the information you need, you want to write an RFI that elicits a prompt and complete response. Incomplete or delayed responses can lead to reconstruction and added expense, after all. They can even introduce safety issues if site security is at stake.
Choose which forms you want and download them individually, or jump to the bottom of this page to download the full set! And when you’re done, jump over to learn more about how DADO’s Smart Forms software will streamline your workflow and increase your productivity – even in the field.
To avoid these issues, use this guide:
1. Start With an RFI Template
A standardized RFI template should be used by all parties on a project. This template will include fields for things like the project name and address, RFI number and title, date and deadline, description of the request, contact information of the respondent and space for their response, as well as any change in cost.
2. Pay Special Attention to the Description
The description of your request is the main purpose of the RFI. Be sure to start with one clear and simple question. After you’ve written your question, you can include important details such as which agreement, plan, or specification you’re referring to.
Use a neutral tone and avoid writing about other related issues—stay focused on the one question at hand. Conclude with exactly what information you need in response. Here’s an example RFI description:
“What are the spec dimensions for the bookcase build-out in the study? The initial request reads 60”Wx16”Dx50”H, but the spec dimensions read 100”Wx16”Dx50”H. Please reply with correct dimensions.”
3. Highlight Important Considerations
If the RFI reveals the need for changes that will affect the timeline or cost, be sure to include that information on the form. You can also include any impacts to other aspects of the project, but be careful to avoid bundling multiple different problems into one RFI. Complex RFIs tend to get incomplete and/or delayed responses.
Additionally, if your request for information highlights a problem, be sure to include one or more possible solutions in the RFI. This way, your recipient can review suggested solutions and simply approve one rather than spending time coming up with a solution themselves.
Download a free RFI template
Use your free digital RFI template as a standalone template, or in our Forms software.
Mistakes That Cause Delays or Reduce Responses
Despite our best efforts, mistakes with RFIs do happen. Here are some to avoid when writing your construction RFI:
For many contractors, the main issue behind delayed responses to RFIs is poor descriptions. These include:
- Unclear questions.
- Failure to specify referenced documents.
- Conflicting information.
- Describing multiple issues.
Take time to review RFIs for description clarity before sending.
Misuse of RFIs
Unfortunately, frustrations or setbacks on a project can lead to the misuse of RFIs. Whether it’s using RFIs to cast blame or to create documentation to justify delays, these extra submissions only serve to further bog projects down with unnecessary administrative processes.
Use RFIs only for their intended purpose, and seek more productive avenues to resolve conflicts and avoid delays.
Many projects suffer from delayed or reduced RFI responses due to a lack of an efficient tracking process. RFIs should be numbered sequentially and tracked in a way that everyone who sends and receives RFIs has access to.
Some contractors use spreadsheet software or even email to accomplish this. However, most quickly discover that these tools are inefficient when managing dozens of RFIs. A better option is to develop a digital workflow for RFIs that makes it easy for everyone from estimators and engineers to project managers and subcontractors to see and respond to RFIs.
Tracking RFI Submissions and Responses
Sequential numbering for RFIs isn’t the end-all, be-all to an effective tracking process; it’s just the first step.
Contractors benefit from a system where they can see when an RFI is sent, received, reviewed, and has gotten a response. For time-sensitive RFIs, the ability to mark urgent issues and set and track deadlines for responses is also critical.
Intelligent document tracking software can accomplish this and even allow users to easily attach photos and documents to requests for information. What’s more, if information changes over time, contractors can even add to and update the RFI rather than send a completely new one.
Lean Construction Practices for RFIs
One of the biggest reasons why RFIs in construction take so much time is that all the stakeholders on a project don’t have the same access to them.
Contractors benefit from a system where they can see when an RFI is sent, received, reviewed, and has gotten a response. For time-sensitiveLean construction attempts to overcome this problem. By keeping everyone involved in a project on the same page, tracking and responding to documents like RFIs becomes much easier.
Document management software like DADO allows all parties to easily access RFIs in a searchable database. With this solution, everyone involved in a project can easily submit, respond to, and check the status of construction RFIs.
Simplify Your RFIs with DADO
It’s time to stop losing RFIs to overwhelmed inboxes and filing systems. With DADO, you simply check the app to see what stage all forms are at, search for specific ones, and even make changes to construction RFIs as needed.
Use our built-in templates, sequencing, and tracking tools to streamline your RFI process so you can get back to focusing on what you do best.
Make your RFIs work smarter and harder
Want to reduce RFI-induced frustration, delays, and expensive errors? Who doesn’t? Find out how DADO can help.