The contract documents for some projects lack clarity and specificity. An RFI is the estimator’s way of defending his estimate and his scope with the contract documents.
Many times an estimator is placed into a situation in which he must decide quickly about what to or not to include in his estimate. When the risk is too great, the estimator must ask the architect, engineer, or construction manager for clarification.
This is done with an RFI, a Request for Information. Sending an RFI will reduce the guess work in your estimate. They also keep all the contractors bidding on the correct scope of work.
Here are some guidelines for writing RFI’s:
- Ask only one question on each RFI.
- Send them as early as possible.
- Be brief and concise.
- Do not try to point out every mistake that you see in the documents.
- Do not write for minor issues, ie: receptacle locations.
- Do not expose contradictions that give you an advantage.
- Avoid personality conflicts with the architect or engineer.
- Do not be offensive with personal comments.
- Print copies of your RFI’s and place them in the project Estimate Book.
Handling the flow of information is vital to the estimator. Be sure to document and record all information received. If you are the successful low bidder, your RFI answers are the record.
When in doubt, ask your Chief Estimator for direction.
Remember, estimating is expensive, poor estimating is costly, and quality estimating is profitable.