How to better manage RFIs in construction

In the fast paced world of construction projects, effective communication and coordination among stakeholders is paramount. With the flurry of documents, plans, and specifications that come with almost any sized construction projects, there exists a crucial action that ensures clarity and addresses uncertainties: the Request for Information (”RFI”). In this post, we delve into some specifics of RFIs in construction, focusing on what they are, the process of managing them, and their impact on project success.

Understanding RFIs

RFIs serve as a formal channel for seeking clarification or resolving ambiguities within construction projects. From architects and engineers to contractors and subcontractors, every stakeholder relies on RFIs to address discrepancies, technical queries, or unforeseen obstacles encountered during project execution.

The Purpose of RFIs

RFIs generally help construction projects operate smoothly while keeping everyone on the same page. A few ways it does this is by providing:

  1. Clarification: RFIs provide clarification on project specifications, drawings, or any other documents that may be ambiguous or conflicting.
  2. Resolution of Issues: RFIs facilitate the resolution of issues or discrepancies that may hinder project progress or quality.
  3. Documentation: RFIs are a universally understood project artifact that creates a documentation trail of communication and decisions made throughout the project lifecycle, crucial for legal and contractual purposes.

The RFI Process

So you’re working on a construction project and are wondering about how to leverage RFIs for everyone’s benefit. Here are a few steps to manage your RFIs:

  1. Initiation: Any project stakeholder can initiate an RFI by submitting a formal request outlining the issue or query. This is best done in writing for very specific wording, etc., but can be supported with meetings or phone conversation. Even better is if there is a modern, mutually understood system for submitting and managing RFIs.
  2. Review and Assignment: The RFI is reviewed by the project team and the responsibility for response is assigned to the right person or party.
  3. Response and Documentation: The responsible party provides a clear and concise response, which is documented and distributed to relevant stakeholders.
  4. Resolution: Upon receiving the response, stakeholders evaluate whether further action or clarification is necessary to address the issue adequately.
  5. Closure: Once resolved, the RFI is officially closed, and the resolution is documented for future reference.

Impact of RFIs on Construction Projects

The impacts of RFIs on construction projects cannot be understated. While they might appear to “create paperwork”, they are in fact de-risking potential issues while improving the likelihood of project success. Here are a few ways RFIs help:

  1. Enhanced Clarity: RFIs ensure that all project stakeholders operate with a clear understanding of project requirements, mitigating misunderstandings and errors.
  2. Cost and Time Management: Timely resolution of issues through RFIs prevents costly rework and delays, thereby optimizing project timelines and budgets.
  3. Risk Mitigation: By proactively addressing potential conflicts or discrepancies, RFIs mitigate project risks and enhance overall project success.
  4. Legal and Contractual Compliance: RFIs provide a comprehensive record of communication and decisions, which can be invaluable in resolving disputes or claims.

Best Practices for RFI Management

Lastly, a few best practices for RFI management that apply to not only your direct team, but to every stakeholder involved in a construction project. With the introduction of more integrated project delivery methods (which we wrote about here), these sorts of mutually agreed upon policies and operating models will dramatically increase the likelihood of success for your construction project.

  1. Timely Submission: Initiate RFIs promptly upon encountering discrepancies or uncertainties to prevent delays in project progress.
  2. Clarify and Specify: Clearly articulate the issue or query in the RFI to facilitate an accurate and timely response.
  3. Collaborative Approach: Foster open communication and collaboration among project stakeholders to streamline the RFI process and promote efficient problem-solving.
  4. Documentation: Maintain a centralized repository for RFIs and responses, ensuring accessibility and transparency for all project participants. Better yet is having a mutually understood platform for RFI management.


In the intricate landscape of construction projects, RFIs stand as a beacon of clarity and collaboration. By fostering transparent communication, addressing uncertainties, and mitigating risks, RFIs play a pivotal role in ensuring project success. Embracing best practices and leveraging RFIs as a proactive tool for problem-solving empowers project stakeholders to navigate challenges effectively and deliver exceptional results in the built environment.

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