Published on January 22nd, 2019 | by Bibhuranjan


Getting the Upper-Hand on RFI’s

Construction professionals are responsible for providing answers to all the questions asked. It is accomplished through RFIs. The entire process can be carried out by creating a precedent for collaboration between the contractor and the consultant all through the process. These RFIs are sent during the construction phase. These may emanate with a subcontractor followed by answers from a sub-consultant, but the contractor issues them to the consultant for the accurate processing.

What is the RFI process in construction?

The RFI can involve different things depending on the type of the industry. However, RFI process in construction is a request for information. It is expensive, regarding both money and time but cannot be prevented and is a vital aspect of the construction business.

What is the need for an RFI in construction management?

The information requested through RFI is needed to resolve the conflicts arising when vital information is required for continuing a project and finish it by the deadline. Design items that need an RFI involve disputes in a design, design specifications and incomplete design plans. An RFI is required when there are error/errors in the construction process or the sequencing problem. Substitutions too may lead to a need for an RFI as a result of the availability of materials, ease of use for an item and the value engineering. Site conditions and demand for constructability are other reasons for the need of an RFI. Henceforth, arises the need for an RFI in construction management.

Expectations from the Construction Management RFI

The working knowledge of the RFI process states that no documents can be perfect just like no project or building can be perfect. Each drawing and the related text is based on the concept and is thus incomplete. Although the engineers and the architects expect nothing different from what is stated, it is anticipated that the RFI process is an integral part of the design and the engineering process. It should not be taken as an excuse for incomplete information or drawings to halt a project or cost overrun. The expectation that the whole construction phase would be free of any question is also absurd.

What is The Right Time to Review the RFI Process in Construction?

The most appropriate time to review the construction process and the RFI procedure is the pre-construction meeting. It includes the standard RFI request with the response forms and the proper use. The onus is on the consultant to evaluate if the response to the RFI issues a Supplemental Instruction (SI) and the Proposed Change (PC). If it happens, then the SI or the PC number should be referred to in answer to the RFI. It is issued simultaneously as the response.

Things to Consider Before Answering the RFI…

Before the RFI is answered, most certainly by the contractor, it is done using online project management, fax or email, or database. One must read the form thoroughly to check if there are any unreasonable terms.

For instance,

· Answer to an RFI will affect the schedule

· Answer to an RFI will affect the cost

A contractor may try to portray consultants in a terrible light by using RFIs. He may request confirmation on items well stated in the documents, issue RFIs though the answer would be present in the papers or the previous RFIs, use too many RFIs to develop a case for a delayed claim and so forth. Well, there is no harm in pushing the RFI back in such cases. When the question is not worth time and effort, return it and then ask for a clarification. But if it is justifiable, then send the reply as soon as possible.

Waiting for an answer legalizes the RFI for the contractor. It gains poor ratings in the evaluation of response times. It is essential to consider each RFI with care to prevent the poor rating. If some clarification is needed, then return it immediately and ask for it. The best method is to maintain clarity and urgency on all the RFIs. It is so as you wouldn’t want to be linked to any delays in the construction schedule or have a cost overrun. It displays teamwork and is eventually good for the construction project.

All the RFIs received should be resolved to the satisfaction of the sender and closed as a standalone question. It is not good for the RFI to turn into a dialogue or transform into a separate series of questions. Since RFI answers should be useful for the project, one should be able to track it in the project log. By combining all the answers and questions, it diminishes the search results, and this turns it challenging to find the solution later on.

An answer to the RFI question should be given just once. If the same query is asked more than once, the response to each one of them should refer to the first answer. The other reason for answering each question individually is that the RFI will stay open when the subsequent changes are taking place affecting the response time. There is no harm in going back on this as well and inform the contractor that he should open up a new RFI for every question that follows after it. The contractor must receive the missing or corrected information from the Consultant to go ahead with the work affected. They must have instructions in written from the Consultant before they go ahead with the part of the affected work.

Although the contractor maintains the records of all the RFIs and one can depend on them, but the consultants should also maintain their records. It is suggested to keep a Project RFI log, and this should include all the dates received and answered: the title, description, drawing number, spec section and comments. Everyone is expected to maintain an online database, but it is wise to keep own records too.

Take control of your RFIs

It is a fact a more significant project takes a longer time to receive a response. For instance, on a project spanning one year or fewer RFIs produce responses within a time frame of 7 days. With projects lasting five years or more, it takes 12 days for an answer. However, 18 to 28 percent of RFIs never receive any response at all. Smaller projects suffer more.

A multitude of reasons is responsible for this. Some of them include lack of knowledge of who is generating requests, managing requests across multiple organizations and human error too. This result in the budget going overboard missed deadlines often culminating into bad blood, finger pointing, and legal hassles.

To sum up

It must be remembered that a contractor initiates an RFI and they may use it for their advantage. Just be careful with the answers. The things right now can be completely different from how they will look a few months later on.

A construction management RFI is the best source of getting the upper hand in RFI management. It aids the user in gaining full control over the RFIs. It also minimizes the risk of any disputes later on besides providing a single source of knowledge of the construction project.

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Editorial Officer, I'm an avid tech enthusiast at heart. I like to mug up on new and exciting developments on science and tech and have a deep love for PC gaming. Other hobbies include writing blog posts, music and DIY projects.

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