What is an RFQ? Photo of construction financial documents
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A request for quote (RFQ) is a document that enables property owners, construction companies, and contractors to obtain detailed cost information about materials and services. Typically, businesses use RFQs when they already know what they need and simply want to evaluate potential costs. 

Read on to learn more about what an RFQ is for, how it compares to other requests, and what to include in an RFQ.

What is an RFQ used for?

An RFQ — or a request for quote — enables construction businesses to get specific details about costs for materials or services. The quote received after sending out an RFQ — also called a price quote — helps buyers determine which vendors can provide the required goods or services with the best cost and terms.

Often, property owners send out RFQs after they’ve already used requests for information (RFI) and requests for proposal (RFP) to understand the scope of a particular project. At that point, they’ve generally set a budget and want to compare costs from multiple contractors and vendors as part of a bidding process. As part of submitting a project bid, a general contractor may use RFQs to understand costs associated with various subcontractors or materials suppliers. 

Early in a project, buyers may use an RFI or RFP to solicit general information from potential vendors. Once they’ve determined the scope of the project, however, an RFQ is essential for determining which vendors can complete the project within the timeline and budget. 

Here are some ways that different parties might use an RFQ:

  • Property owners may send out an RFQ to a general contractor to determine the costs for constructing an apartment building.
  • General contractors could then send RFQs to various subcontractors to calculate the costs for specialized work on the building. 
  • Subcontractors would likely send RFQs to suppliers to figure out how much building materials will cost for their work on the project. 

Ultimately, everyone who uses an RFQ has the same goal: Get specific pricing information to determine the most suitable vendor and ensure that projects stay within budget. 

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What to include in an RFQ

When writing an RFQ, it’s important to include certain details to ensure the responses are useful. Sending an incomplete RFQ may require re-sending the same document later — so save time by preparing a high-quality document the first time around.

Most RFQs require the following information:

  • Company information: Details about the buyer, like business name and contact information
  • Project details: Basic information about the project, like its location or purpose
  • Specific requests: Highly detailed information about scope — like the type of materials and quantity needed, or the specific service to be performed
  • Timeline: Deadlines and dates for the project

In general, an RFQ will have the buyer’s requirements listed along with blank spaces for the potential vendor to fill in costs or other details, like dates. The information provided by each vendor will ultimately help the RFQ’s sender decide how to proceed with the project.

An RFQ is not typically a legally binding document. However, it is in the vendor’s best interest to provide fair and accurate pricing information — otherwise, they are unlikely to get rewarded with a contract later on. 

RFQ vs. RFI and RFP – What’s the difference?

While an RFQ is an important document in construction, it is far from the only one. In fact, the catch-all term RFX stands for “request for X” since there are so many different types of requests in construction. 

MeaningRequest for informationRequest for proposalRequest for quote
PurposeSolicit initial project information or clarification during a projectNarrow project scope by identifying potential vendorsDetermine specific costs for materials and services required for a project

One of the most common construction documents is an RFI, or a request for information. 

Early in a project, a property owner may send an RFI to vendors to determine feasibility and narrow down scope. 

Deep dive: Requestion for Information FAQ

Once a project begins, contractors and subcontractors use RFIs to ask questions about specifications — like clarifying a drawing, identifying a potential problem, or requesting a substitution. 

Another common document is an RFP, or a request for proposal. 

After a property owner has solicited general information using an RFI, they may use an RFP to determine how various vendors would complete the project. Some companies may choose to post RFPs publicly so that anyone can submit a proposal while others will send RFPs to specific vendors. 

Regardless, an RFP helps move a project forward by narrowing down specific project details and potential vendors

There are many other names for requests in construction — like requests for bid, tender, or change — that help everyone involved understand the specifics of a project during the design, bidding, or construction phases. 

Why an RFQ is important

An RFQ helps everyone understand the costs involved with a project or a specific aspect of a project. Property owners, general contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers benefit from RFQs, which give them the chance to competitively compare costs while bidding for projects. 

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