A Request for Information (RFI) is a common administrative task in the construction industry. Efficient management of RFIs can minimize project delays and cost overruns. In part one, our Memphis contractor lawyers gave an overview of RFIs and discussed items that are typically found in them. In this second part, we will focus on what it takes to write an effective RFI.
Ask a Question
Begin your RFI with a formal question (or questions) that needs to be addressed. Wording should be clear, concise, and free of unnecessary jargon to avoid confusion among the multiple parties that will read the document.
Once your question is clearly stated, build context around why the question is being asked. Building context further clarifies your question.
After asking your question and building context, you can further clarify why you are asking for more information by providing visuals that illustrate your question or issue. Visuals such as sketches, photos, or videos work well.
Suggest Low-Cost Solutions
It is not uncommon for an RFI to add more costs to a project. To demonstrate cost consciousness, include a couple of low-cost solutions as a means to help keep the project under budget.
Give an Appropriate Amount of Time to Respond
Deadlines are integral in construction and RFIs are no different. Set a time frame for when you need a response to the RFI. Typically, time frames are around one or two weeks depending on the RFI.
RFI Best Practices
RFIs are meant to facilitate seamless communication and allow for better productivity. Keep these best practices in mind and submit your next RFI in good faith:
- Read all of your contracts and documents
- Limit one issue per RFI
- Use a standardized form for submitting RFIs
- Give a specific timeframe for RFI responses
- Keep a record of delivery and store RFIs in a centralized database
- After receiving a response, adjust the project schedule and budget if necessary.
- Create an RFI audit trail
After the RFI is Answered
If a subcontractor submits an RFI to a general contractor and the RFI is adequately answered by the general contractor, the issue is considered resolved and RFI is recorded in the database. If the RFI was not adequately answered, the subcontractor should consult with the general contractor before a new RFI is submitted. The RFI is a necessary tool for communication and clarification. It is imperative that all parties understand how to write, submit, and resolve RFI discrepancies properly. Making false claims and creating unnecessary paper trails can add to the confusion, lack of information, and ultimately, delays.
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.