A Request for Information (RFI) is a formal request sent by a contractor to a General Contractor or owner typically seeking guidance/clarification.
Why send an RFI rather than just making a phone call? Because the GC or owner’s response to the RFI is usually legally enforceable. If you send an RFI asking for clarification on some unclear item on the plans, receive a response to the RFI, and then bid the job using the RFI as a basis for understanding the scope of work, the GC or owner will not be able to claim you are responsible if their answer turns out to be wrong! Instead, they will likely be on the hook for a change order.
Put simply, an RFI is used whenever there is a need to capture a permanent record of a GC or owner’s response to an important question.
When to use an RFI
There are many cases where a contractor might choose to send an RFI. The most important ones are cases where the contractor needs more information in order to prepare an accurate bid—especially if a wrong assumption would prove very costly.
For instance, the plans (or specs) are not clear about something. The contractor sends a formal RFI requesting clarification. The GC receives the RFI and responds. The contractor can then use that response to guide the estimating.
Knowify offers a streamlined RFI tool that anyone can use. You can create RFIs and send them to your GC or owner straight through Knowify. The recipient will then have the opportunity to respond electronically, ensuring that their response is permanently captured as a record in the Knowify job.