RFI in Construction: Definition and Types

What Is an RFI in Construction? In construction, a request for information (RFI) seeks the clarification of plans, drawings, specifications, and agreements. The construction RFI is a formal written process in which parties, such as the contractor and designer, clarify information gaps in construction documents.
  1. Know That Timing Is Everything. …
  2. Clearly Define the Problem. …
  3. And Offer Solutions. …
  4. Ask for the Response You Want. …
  5. Centralize Data Access and Management. …
  6. Standardize the Process. …
  7. Provide Additional Information.

A general contractor might discover that they could have taken a vacation or even built a few shopping centers, which can be expensive, if they could add up all the time they wasted waiting for a response to RFIs throughout their careers. According to studies, for every $1 million in project value, there may be 15 to 20 RFIs on an average project on a typical day. This means that a $5 million project can incur costs of about $100,000.

The RFI In Construction: What It Is, What It’s For & 7 Key Best Practices [Free Template]

Types of RFIs in construction

Depending on the stage of the construction process you are in, the type of RFI you use Using the appropriate RFI at the appropriate time can avoid any potential delays, conflicts, or significant expenses because contractors may have to halt construction to submit an RFI and wait for the response. The different types of RFIs in construction include:

Material change

The contractor has the option to review the construction documents’ list of materials and use this RFI to ask for substitutes that they think are more appropriate for the project.

Change in method or process

This RFI is used by contractors to request modifications to installation procedures or specific buildings.

Timing and phasing

The RFI may use this RFI to request a change in the order of construction activities if there are any labor or resource constraints.

Site conditions

Contractors may submit an RFI after reviewing the site conditions to let designers know that the actual conditions are very different from what is described in their construction documents, so they may seek further clarification to address this.

Design coordination

With the help of this RFI, various project participants will typically coordinate and organize the design and other documents.

Construction coordination

Contractors use these RFIs to request that all construction-related safety items, schedules, and procedures be sorted, coordinated, and organized.

Value engineering

Contractors respond to this RFI to request project modifications to raise quality, lower costs, or increase efficiency.

Utility conflict

Contractors will submit this RFI to request the removal of utility lines, such as power wires or water pipes, that are in the way of their construction site.

Incomplete plans or specs

Contractors can use this RFI to request more information because some construction plans or specifications may be inaccurate or lack certain details.

Deleted scope

Contractors may find tasks listed in the construction documents that they feel are not necessary or time-consuming, in which case they will request their removal using this document.

Design clarification

Contractors may have trouble comprehending certain details and how they relate to the specific project after reviewing construction materials and designs, so they’ll request this RFI for more guidance.

Design change

If a contractor discovers an error in a design, they may use this RFI to request that the design be revised to address the problem.

Constructability issues

The contractor will submit this RFI for clarification or suggestions if they discover a detail or overall design that appears impractical or impossible to build when they review the construction materials.

What is an RFI in construction?

Contractors or designers will submit an RFI in the construction industry to inquire about any information gaps in specific construction materials. Throughout the course of a construction project, there are numerous opportunities for someone to submit an RFI. The project owner may send a request for a proposal during the bidding phase, which is one of the most frequent occurrences. Contractors can then send an RFI to request clarification on the projects’ specifics or budgets.

During the construction phase, contractors or subcontractors may also decide to submit an RFI to designers to request clarification on a project’s specifications or drawings. They may also submit an RFI when making suggestions for various construction elements, asking for more details regarding the project’s intended use, or requesting more materials to complete construction tasks.

What to include in an RFI

Your RFI should aid the designer, engineer, or architect in comprehending your request clearly so they can give you a prompt and comprehensive response. Elements to include in a great RFI are:

How to create an RFI

Ensure designers or engineers fully understand your requirements in your RFI to prevent the project from pausing construction for an extended period of time. Follow these steps to create an effective RFI:

1. Define the problem

Make sure to carefully read the contract and construction details, and note any ambiguities or issues that you find that might have an impact on the project’s quality. After writing down your inquiries, carefully review the documents to make sure the information you sought isn’t present. Choose the appropriate RFI type, then clearly describe the issues you discovered. To keep the building process as efficient as possible, try to finish this phase as soon as you receive the construction supplies.

2. Present ideas for solutions

Presenting your suggestions for potential solutions when you submit issues with the construction documents is typically more convenient and effective. As you list your potential solutions in the RFI, use clear language that is detailed. This can expedite the process because the designer, architect, or engineer can quickly accept your suggestion rather than having to spend time coming up with one on their own.

3. Be clear about the response you prefer

Clearly specify the kind of response you would like to receive from designers or project owners to ensure you get an efficient and useful response. You can accomplish this by supplying a list of the precise details you require. This enables the recipients to comprehend your request for them clearly. They can then quickly give you the details you need to continue and finish the project.

4. Provide additional details for more context

Make sure that the project owners or designers understand your request by carefully reading the information you have provided in the document. Give more information to give the situation or issue more context if any of your questions seem unclear. Have coworkers or other project participants review it as well to make sure it is understandable and clear. Ask them to offer suggestions for any information you might have overlooked.

5. Include attachments for more reference

Include attachments like images or other media in your request as a great additional way to clarify it. You can also include more informational documents, illustrations of the project or construction site, or pictures of the location and materials to provide your readers with more clarity. As a result, project managers or designers can easily understand the issue and make logical decisions without the project being delayed.


What does RFI stand for in engineering?

A document known as a request for information (RFI) is used in the construction process to specify the necessary project specifics. In order to maintain the proper design, specifications, and materials throughout a complex construction project, numerous RFIs are written and answered.

What is RFA and RFI in construction?

A well-crafted Request for Information (RFI), Request for Proposal (RFP), or Request for Application (RFA) fully and accurately describes your requirements and current situation, increasing the likelihood that every proposal you receive will be worth your time and consideration.

What is RFI and submittals?

When a subcontractor is preparing a submittal that will eventually be considered for approval, they can send an RFI, which is very similar to a construction submittal. This article offers a comprehensive overview of information requests and what they entail during construction projects.

What is the purpose of a RFI?

A standard business procedure known as a Request for Information (RFI) is used to gather written data about the capabilities of different suppliers.

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