Construction RFIs: 6 Tips For Requesting With Confidence
There’s a reason we measure twice and cut once. In construction, the cost of being wrong is far too great.
So, when contractors submit a request for information (RFI), they shouldn’t fear being a nuisance. They’re saving money, and possibly lives, by making sure they have everything they need. Construction is a complicated industry, and, at Sunbelt Rentals, we like to help out when we can.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your RFIs.
Remember that RFIs benefit both sides
An RFI is used when a stakeholder needs to clarify something about a project. It’s a formal process and an important part of construction recordkeeping.
It also comes in handy. Because contractors, architects, and engineers interact with projects in different ways, that can breed a mix-up or two. Consider RFIs an opportunity to be collaborative and to remember that everyone shares the same goal of a finished project.
That starts with being on the same page.
For instance, some project plans call for a building material that can’t be sourced in the marketplace. If you’re the builder, choosing an alternative can be problematic on your own. Depending on how the material is used, the architect may need to go back to the drawing board.
It’s better to go straight to the source than to suffer the consequences. And RFIs provide a written record in case anything happens down the line.
Be formal and professional
Business operates on mutual respect, and construction is no exception. For your request to be taken seriously, you need to prove you are, as well. An RFI that is organized and articulated clearly is more likely to receive a thoughtful answer.
Once you have your format finetuned with a clear statement of the problem, be sure to include a deadline for when you must have a response. While it may feel demanding to expect an answer within a certain timeframe, deadlines determine priorities, and requests made without them are bound to fall to the bottom of the list. Give your respondent every reason to believe you mean business.
Submitting an RFI requires some prioritization on the part of the contractor. Building is a sequential process, so problems that show up in the early stages compound later on. It’s harder to fix a structure if the lot wasn’t suitable in the first place, for instance.
During your due diligence process, consider the build from end to end. Inspect your drawings thoroughly and think through a plan of attack. If you can already envision problems, address them as soon as you can. The beautification and finishing touches can wait.
Be as descriptive as possible
Details get things done. The more information you can include in your description, the easier your question is to answer and the more your respondent will thank you. Construction is a technical industry, so it may be prudent to include hard data for calculation purposes.
Visual aids can be beneficial, too, so if you have pictures or video, pass them along. It’s always better to have too much information than not enough.
Don’t abuse it
Admitting when you don’t know something is admirable. That said, it can be aggravating when someone asks a question they already have the answer to. So, before you draft and submit an RFI, make sure you’re not missing anything.
Sometimes, workers will go as far as to ask unnecessary questions to either buy themselves time or to avoid dealing with the matter at hand. Don’t be that person. RFIs are just one component of a healthy business relationship, so always treat whoever you’re addressing with respect.
Be willing to ask follow-up questions
When you receive a response to your RFI, verify that it addresses the problem completely and that you know how to proceed. If you’re still unsure, reach out again. Don’t let it slide or the matter will appear to be settled. Keep going until you have an answer you can understand. The end result is worth it.
Struggling with your equipment? Sunbelt Rentals can help. Our experts can provide the answers you need in laymen’s terms. And we’re easy to get ahold of. Contact us for more information.