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Why any contractor needs an RFI template

Rebecca Wojno 8 min read
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Whether you are a general contractor, project manager, or part of the on-site team, a request for information (RFI) template is a versatile tool to provide and receive critical information to keep things on schedule.

Any party involved in the construction project can use an RFI to better understand issues, resolve ambiguities, and decide how to deal with information gaps in agreements and ongoing work plans. When handled correctly, RFI templates improve communications, smooth work flows, and significantly reduce project costs.

In this article, you will learn how and when to use an RFI template to support decision-making and facilitate a trouble-free work flow in construction project work. We’ll also share an easy-to-use RFI template that works on so you can customize your construction project RFIs quickly and effectively.

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What is an RFI?

An RFI template is a formal document used in construction projects when you require clarification or additional information on construction designs and plans, specifications, materials, and project work documentation.

This document is a versatile way for a project stakeholder to direct questions to other specialists or to respond to queries. For example, a designer could use an RFI to request additional information on work schedules or supplies from a contractor, or a subcontractor could request detailed blueprint information from a designer or a contractor.

Many straightforward construction questions are flagged first in an RFI and then formalized and tracked further in subsequent change and substitution orders. RFIs do not replace change or substitution orders, but they often show the origin of the question and pinpoint the rationale that eventually led to a change order or substitution decision.

Customized RFIs cover all the bases going up and down the chain of command. Because anyone involved in the project can use an RFI to ask questions, an RFI template is an excellent way to standardize RFI documentation and streamline the process.

RFIs help keep communication lines open and ensure all parties are aware of and have access to any changes and decisions. RFI templates help uncover relevant construction project issues early, identify options for solutions, and provide shared accountability for decision-making and meeting project deadlines.

An RFI template is used by anyone involved in a construction project to formally ask questions in writing.

What is included in an RFI?

RFIs include basic administrative information on the project, parties, and timing involved in requesting and responding to priorities and questions, such as materials, specifications, design renderings, and contract information. Standardizing the administrative context in a template allows you to concentrate on addressing specific questions.

Best practices suggest only including one question in an individual RFI. If your project has several issues or connected aspects of the initial RFI’s question, you can use one RFI at a time to communicate with subcontractors.

An RFI is a great supplement for any back-and-forth conversations that take place in any design studio or construction project site. It should include documents such as contracts, specifications, timelines, drawing renders, and previous change orders.

What are some examples of RFIs used in construction projects?

RFIs identify problems and suggest solutions at all stages of construction projects — from project estimation and design to construction materials and engineering methods.

As a general contractor, you might send an RFI to several potential subcontractors during the project scope or estimation stage to see the overall picture on their availability and costs before moving onto the formal design, proposal, and planning stages of a project.

A subcontractor could send an RFI to the general contractor, the project manager, or an architect or designer to seek clarification on materials and methods before deciding on sending in an estimate or proposal for the work.

Design clarifications

An RFI at the design stage can clarify the intention of the design. Sometimes important design features require more detailed planning than was captured or represented in early drawings or schematics.

An RFI that addresses design details helps project bidders access the right information, such as which construction materials to order. Supplemental design information shared in an RFI response may be used in later stages of the project by other professionals.

Timely responses are important since questions about design are best resolved before committing to a particular design and construction begins.

Design changes

For a subcontractor, an RFI is often a good way to collaborate with an architect or engineer and explore changes for a given design. Once you receive an RFI response, follow up with a formal design change request — you can use the response to trace discussions between the original RFI questions and responses.

Request for substitution

Revision and substitution RFIs are included in contract documents, and an RFI then becomes an official part of the project record.

Substitutions are typically for cause, if specified materials or equipment are no longer available, or for convenience, depending on the situation. Care is needed to ensure that final approval of any revision or substitution is the subject of a separate decision-making and documentation process.

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Effective RFIs templates on the Work OS

Why any contractor needs an RFI template

Our RFI template helps you share information and respond to questions in writing and meshes well with our other construction templates that cover the bidding, tracking, and overall project mapping and management processes.

You can link the RFI template throughout the project management process to integrate with workflows and other templates on the flexible Work OS. On the RFI template, you can:

  • Organize your projects by tasks and RFI, detailing type, task owner, category/trade, status, and timeline
  • Color-code each project aspect for a transparent overview
  • Create subcontractor profiles to track project timelines, stages, budget, and more
  • Initiate Zoom calls with subcontracts right from their profile
  • Integrate with Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, Gmail, Dropbox, Box, and Microsoft Excel

Using our Work OS tools to manage RFIs increases the confidence of all parties working together and provides an effective general contractor solution. RFI template documents provide a verifiable record of important discussions and subsequent decisions affecting the project.

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Related templates

Visualize your project schedule and manage all aspects of your team’s work, communications, and RFIs in one place on the Work OS platform.

Construction bid template from

The construction bid templates provide a standardized structure and format so you can quickly and easily bid on projects without having to build each bid from scratch. Modify bids for new projects, receive timely reminders and updates, and transform successful bids from the proposal to execution stages with a construction project tracking template. Work OS construction roadmap template 

Our construction roadmap template gives you the ability to instantly view your project data and simultaneously manage multiple construction projects. Track your project timeline on a Ganntt chart or use the high level view feature to understand the big picture and details at once.

Now that we have a background on RFI templates and saw some examples, let’s go over some common questions to really help you nail down the process.

FAQs about RFIs

What goes into an RFI?

An RFI contains specific project and contextual administrative details, and then focuses a relevant question on a design or engineering issue for which a written response is required. An RFI template standardizes the format and structure to simplify and streamline the formal communication process.

Are RFIs part of contract documents?

Few jurisdictions regulate RFIs, but the RFI process is an official component of project planning and implementation. RFI templates are one source of information used in financial, legal, and later design, change order, and substitution approval steps.

A well-planned and thorough RFI template translates into increased construction project accountability and success and should always be considered an integral part of the official contract documentation.

How do you request information from a company?

Filling out an RFI template is an effective way to acquire necessary information by parties engaged in a construction project. Vendors, suppliers, contractors, subcontractors, designers, engineers, and many others use the agreed-upon RFI process to formally document and share necessary project information in writing.

Design modifications, schedule updates, change orders, and other project management decisions often rely on information obtained and shared through the RFI process.

Rebecca is a writer and marketer using her experience to create sharp copy, engaging blogs and thought-leadership pieces. Raised in Columbus, OH, Rebecca now lives in Tel Aviv, where she enjoys the best beaches and bananas you can find.
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