An RFI is a Request for Information. We write an RFI because we
a. Need direction due to an omission in the documents, or
b. Require clarity on a discrepancy, or
c. Want to get something on the project record
When writing an RFI, the author must consider what he or she is trying to gain from the answer. Most often times we are just seeking clarity to an omission or discrepancy in the contract, as is stated in “a” above:
RFI Question: On detail 3/S-8, there is no thickness called out for the tube steel column. Please provide steel column thickness.
As in item “b” above, it may be discrepancy in the documents:
RFI Question: On detail 4/S-9, the base plate thickness on the center column is shown as ½”. On note 4 on sheet S-2, the same plate is drawn as ¾” thick. Please clarify the base plate thickness.
The third most common reason to write an RFI is to make sure that something is on the written record. Perhaps something was said in a meeting or conversation but never written down. Another popular reason for an RFI is to write it in order to use it as an attachment, or basis, of request for change order. Whatever the case is, it is always important to get things written down if you are in doubt. You know the sayings, “document, document, document” and “if it was never written down, it never happened”. These RFIs can be delivered in a professional way:
RFI Question: Today in the weekly project meeting, it was stated by the engineer that all sidewalks shall be poured using 3,500 psi concrete. The specifications require that all sidewalks be poured using 3,000 psi concrete. Please confirm the class of concrete to be used on the project for sidewalks.
***By obtaining the answer to this RFI, you will establish that the engineer changed the specification and it also opens the door for you to request additional payment due to an increase in the cost per cubic yard of concrete.
My final comment about RFIs is the importance of submitting this on a form, versus on an email. Emails have cc lines, and bcc lines, and multiple recipients. Often times these questions and answers form a spider web of communication. When using the simple forms created by Runjob, there will always be one discrete question and one discrete answer. There’s no need to have a whole bunch of back and forth and discussion on the thickness of the base plate – just give me the thickness and I’ll get it installed!
In conclusion, RFIs are documents which are very quick and easy to produce and provide the project records with one discrete question and one discrete answer. When written properly (clearly and concisely), RFIs can be extremely powerful. They’re very important!
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Runjob is a product created by contractors for contractors who want to process submittals, requests for information (RFIs), letters, potential change orders (PCOs), and transmittals in short order and with simplicity. Try our construction management software for free today!