Project designs have become considerably more complex over the past several decades. Increased project complexity results in a greater likelihood that errors, conflicts, omissions, and ambiguities will survive the owner’s quality-control review process. As a result, contractors need to review the working drawings, specifications, addenda, amendments, and other contract documents very thoroughly, more thoroughly now than in the past. Unfortunately, it seems that this review is most often performed after bidding takes place, not before. If the contractor finds conflicts, errors, or omissions, it is required to notify the owner or the owner’s representative to seek clarification or interpretation. Such inquiries and their responses need to be documented in the project records. Typically, such requests for clarification or interpretation are transmitted to the owner in the form of a request for information (RFI). Thus, RFIs are a tool of the construction industry intended to identify problems and seek solutions. However, a trend of a different sort has developed concerning RFIs. The purpose of this article is to identify current problems with the use of the RFI process and outline a potential solution.
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