The Problem with RFI’s
Requests for Information or RFIs give general contractors the opportunity to seek clarification from the architect on a specific aspect of a structure’s design. By seeking clarity early in the project, you avoid change orders later. While, in principle, this concept works, it’s not always applied correctly. According to Navigant Consulting’s report, Impact & Control of RFIs on Construction Projects,13.2 percent of RFIs were considered “unjustifiable” for the following reasons:
- RFI’s asked questions answered in the contract documents,
- RFI’s requested design changes not considered by the design team
- RFI’s questioned means or methods
The report indicated that the cost of dealing with “unjustifiable” RFI’s totaled over $110,000 per project.
In an effort to help construction companies write better RFI’s, we produced this two-part series describing best practices. If you missed the first part of this series, click here to catch up. Also, if you need to file or defend a claim during the construction process, an Orlando construction lawyer can assist you.
Make Sure That Your RFI Asks a Question
It sounds simplistic, but not every RFI asks a question of the designer. At times, contractors have used RFI’s to make statements about the design, voice disagreements, or to preview a change order that they plan to make. These are not proper uses of the RFI process because it doesn’t give the designer anything to solve. Also, there are more appropriate channels to voice opinions or ask for changes.
Provide Background Information with the RFI
The more information that you can provide to support you RFI, the better. Examples of items that help clarify the issue being raised in an RFI include sketches, photos, videos, specifications, or models.
Other Items to Be Included in an RFI
A general form should be used to submit all RFI’s. By streamlining this process, RFI’s become easier to follow and can be resolved quicker. Some of the items that should be a part of an RFI form include:
- Project Name and Number
- RFI Title, Number, and Information
- The Discipline Affected by the Issue in Question
- A Priority Number (Institute a scale grading the importance of the issue)
- RFI Submitter Name
- Cost Impact
- Proposed Solution
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.