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RFI construction template

Visual using a document and info sign iconography | Construction RFI template | Knowify

Successful projects require transparency. Project owners, however, have a lot to think about. Most of the time, they can’t share every detail or answer every question before a project gets started. When contractors eventually run into this lack of transparency, a request for information (RFI), is there to help them get the information they need to continue work. For this reason, the RFI is a vital document in the construction industry.

However, this process can be a challenging one. A lack of project clarity combined with multiple stakeholders can result in competing interests, priorities, and project visions.

Even more, if a contractor provides an unclear request, it may be rejected—22% of all RFIs go unanswered—leaving the contractor in the dark and the project in limbo.

To help contractors avoid these pitfalls on construction projects, this article will explore what to include in a construction RFI, when they are needed, and how to use them effectively. Finally we put together a convenient RFI template to help contractors get started on the right foot.

What is a request for information?

A request for information serves as a formal document to obtain clarity on a project phase, task, procedure, or design. Beyond this primary function, an RFI helps document projects and ensures all stakeholders are on the same page.

RFIs will do the following for contractors:

  • Clarify the design
  • Grant permission to substitute materials 
  • Identify issues
  • Verify contract terms

When a contractor runs into missing information or uncertainty on a project, it isn’t their responsibility to determine how to move forward. Instead, contractors can submit an RFI to a general contractor or project owner for additional guidance. For example, RFIs can be used to gain insight from an engineer on a drawing, or they can be used to document concerns regarding project plans, materials, or techniques.

If you are wondering why these questions couldn’t be answered over a phone call, the simple reason is that there is too much at stake. Project details have a genuine impact on the finances of a project. If a contractor decides to move forward without explicit instruction, materials are used, and labor hours are logged for work that may be incorrect. This can delay a project, racking up costs and pushing back timelines.

For this reason, whenever a GC or project owner needs to answer an essential question about the project, an RFI is used to formally document the response.

You can’t underestimate the importance of this documentation. If a contractor bids on a job based on an RFI, and that part of the job turns out wrong, the RFI provides clear documentation protecting the contractor from blame.

In most cases, however, the RFI is a tool to ensure cohesion amongst the different project stakeholders. It allows contractors to complete the job correctly and to the project owner’s vision.

An RFI is a formal document used to obtain clarity on a project.
It allows contractors to ask questions regarding project plans, materials, or techniques.
An RFI ensures cohesion among different project stakeholders.
RFI documents the response from project owners or general contractors.
It allows contractors to complete the job correctly and to the project owner’s vision.

Free construction RFI templates

Use our basic RFI template, change order template, and RFI log template as starting point for creating your own professionally crafted RFIs.

Click here to download all three templates!

Basic RFI template

Below is a basic RFI template to help contractors get started on the right track.

[Example] Basic RFI template

Date: [Date]
To: [General contractor]
From: [Construction contractor]
Subject: Request for information (RFI) 

We are in need of additional information regarding the scope of the project and the materials/services required to complete it. Please provide the following information so that we can better plan and understand the scope of the project:

  1. Project description:
  2. Materials/Equipment needed:
  3. Delivery/Installation requirements:
  4. Time frame/Deadlines:
  5. Budget/Pricing:
  6. Special considerations:
  7. Other requirements:

We appreciate your prompt attention to this RFI. Please provide your response by [Date].

[Construction contractor]

Change order RFI template

Below is an RFI template specific that can be used to obtain additional information about an existing change order prior to making any decisions.

[Example] Change order RFI template

Date: [Date] 
Subject: Change order request for information (RFI)
To: [General contractor] 
From: [Construction contractor] 

This Change Order Request for Information (RFI) is to inform you of proposed changes to the [Project name] in accordance with [Scope of work] as outlined in the [Project contract]. 

Proposed change:
[Include a brief description of the proposed change] 

[State the reason for the proposed change] 

[Describe the impact this change will have on the project] 

[Describe the timeline for the proposed change and any associated deadlines] 

[List any questions the General Contractor may have in order to understand the proposed change and any associated impacts] 

Please respond to this Change Order RFI within [Number of days] days of receipt. 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

[Construction contractor]

RFI log template 

Use this RFI log template to help track requests for information (RFI) submitted to a GC or project owner.

[Example] RFI log template

Company name: ______________________________________ 
Address: _____________________________________________ 
Phone number: _________________ 

General contractor: _________________________________ 
Project name: ______________________________________ 

RFI number: ________________________________________ 

Description of issue: _____________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________

Date submitted: ________________
Submitted by: _______________________________________ 

Estimated date of response: __________________ 
Priority level: _______________________________ 
Action taken: _______________________________ 

Comments: ___________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

What’s included in an RFI?

A professional RFI will include the following:

  • Project details
  • A prompt asking for the desired information
  • Deadline for response
  • Documentation
  • Contact information

An RFI form must include a brief description of the project, including the scope of work, project timelines, budget info, and any additional relevant information.

Most importantly, the RFI must include a thorough list of the specific questions or items that need clarification. Don’t miss out on any vital information here. Provide as much detail as possible. The more you can force the owner to over-explain, the better.

Be sure to clearly state the problem. Stick to one specific issue. RFIs should have a narrow focus. Include any piece of information that helps explain the problem. This should include building plans or photos that help justify the project. If there isn’t enough context to support the request, the RFI may be deemed unjustifiable.

Justifiable vs. Unjustifiable RFI

An RFI is deemed justifiable if the question or concern cannot be explained or answered via the contract. The RFI is deemed unjustifiable if the contractor’s question can be addressed by reading the contract. With this in mind, consider pulling language straight from the contract to support your case that your desired information is not present in the contract.

Additionally, don’t hesitate to provide your thoughts on a solution if you see one. As a specialty contractor, you bring a unique perspective as an expert in the field. Use your experience to present a solution if you have one.

Lastly, include a timeline for when the GC or project owner must respond, and remember to include supporting drawings, specifications, or contract excerpts. Finally, your contact information should be easy to find.

Why do you need an RFI


You should use an RFI when the design or specs are unclear. In this situation, a contractor can use an RFI to ask a general contractor or project owner to explain the design specifics or how they want to move forward.

As mentioned earlier, if at any point a contractor comes across an issue or concern or finds that there is a lack of direction, they should reference the contract first. When in doubt, if the contract does not answer the question, fire off an RFI.

Substitutions or modifications

If a contractor finds that any materials are not a good fit for the project, are too expensive, or are unobtainable, an RFI is the perfect remedy. Contractors should include suggestions for alternative materials and a breakdown of any potential cost savings or quality improvements resulting from switching materials.

Identify issues

Going from a design to a finished product is always easier said than done. As the one bringing the design to life, a contractor’s perspective brings value. Any identified issues with implementation, worksite conditions, and utilities (water lines or electrical grids) should be addressed via an RFI.

As a contractor, if you notice anything that will impact your workflow, efficiency, or safety, gather the details as to why and organize it into an RFI. Project owners are then required to take the matter seriously.


RFIs are powerful tools for filling in the gaps in the contract. By using an RFI, contractors can ensure the project—and all stakeholders involved—are operating within the law and local regulations. Contract terms can also be tested and verified through an RFI. If timelines, budgets, or terms are left unclear, an RFI can nudge the project owner to supply any information missing from the contract.

How to use RFI in construction

Submitting an RFI will set in motion a chain of events that will cost time and money, so it’s best to follow industry best practices to stay conscientious and professional. Using an RFI will come down to the contractor’s discretion, but it should be used immediately upon recognizing a need for one. There is no point in waiting. Project owners will need time to review and provide a response. A speedy request will mitigate project delays and get to a solution faster.

To help facilitate the process, ensure your RFI is focused on a single issue; try to avoid sending large batches of multiple RFIs at the same time. This will only complicate the process and likely result in a lengthy delay or rejection. It’s also recommended to include a priority level; urgent, high-priority, medium priority, and so on. An urgent or high-priority RFI will be taken seriously, so only mark it as such if you are confident the issue deserves the added urgency.

When issuing an RFI, turnaround time is the most valuable resource. Therefore, the RFI must indicate a specific timeline for a response. Allow for at least ten days for a response. When the owner must return an RFI to the contractor for additional information, the RFI should be re-issued with a revision number and date.

Contractors are expected to provide quite a bit of information and insight for any RFI they send. For this reason, RFIs must be comprehensive. Include specific references from the contract, drawings, designs, and specs. Additionally, take the extra time to provide any resolutions or alternatives to the problem at hand.

To take it a step further, if a contractor determines that a change will impact the project cost or timeline, they should always provide a breakdown of their rationale. These extra steps will ensure the RFI is taken seriously and demonstrates that the contractor has put reasonable thought and effort into the inquiry.

Lastly, find the time to discuss and agree upon an RFI process with the project owner before the project begins. This should entail actual RFI language in the contract itself.

Example of contract language provided by the Construction Management Association of America:

“In the event the contractor determines that some provision or requirement of the drawings, specifications, or other contract documents requires clarification or interpretation, the contractor shall submit a Request for Information in writing to the owner. Requests for information may only be submitted by the contractor and shall only be submitted on the Request for Information form provided by the owner. Each Request for Information shall be limited to a single subject of inquiry.”

Subcontractor RFI Best Practices:

• Submit RFIs as soon as an issue arises and at least 10 days before a response is required. 

• Limit each RFI to a single subject and assign priority.

• Avoid “batching” RFIs for submittal.

• Include specific references to drawings and specifications.

• Include suggested resolution, if possible.

• Disclose potential time delays or cost changes due to RFI.

• Agree on the method or system of submission prior to beginning the project.

Knowify’s RFI tool

As you’ve seen, RFIs can have a massive impact on construction project management; they identify issues, facilitate communication, better define contract terms, and influence total project cost.

Consequently, contractors must establish a solid RFI system to reduce back and forth and foster a more efficient project. Luckily, Knowify delivers such a system through an easy-to-use RFI tool.

Create, manage, and organize RFIs through Knowify’s central platform. The RFI Builder allows contractors to create RFIs from templates and add notes, images, and documents to each one. Better yet, once the RFI is created, Knowify will track the progress and enable real-time updates from clients. If waiting for a response, contractors can set up automated reminders and notifications to keep everything moving forward.

Get the information you need to stay on the ground, from the ground, with Knowify. To see for yourself, book a 30-minute demo today.