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What is a Request for Information (RFI)?
A Request for Information (RFI) is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a request that one party shares information with another party. Typically, it’s a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier requesting job information from their customer. In some circumstances, Requests for Information require a response from the receiving party. In others, it’s up to the receiving party whether or not they’d like to respond.
A Request for Information may request things like:
the name and address of the owner, contractor, surety, or lender
a copy of the project’s Notice of Commencement
a copy of the project’s surety bond(s)
the project’s legal property description
and any other relevant project information.
Who needs to use an RFI?
A Request for Information will typically be used by a sub-tier party (like a subcontractor, sub-subcontractor, or supplier) to gain information about the project and the project’s higher-tiered participants. Sometimes, a Request for Information might be made by a contractor in order to receive lender information from an owner. But, generally, any party who needs more information about the project they’re working on might make a Request for Information to another party.
In what circumstances is an RFI normally used?
A Request for Information will be used in a situation where the requesting party needs certain project information to send notices, shore up project documentation, or to potentially make some future claim. However, a Request for Information is not a sign of problems on a project. Rather, a Request for Information is used for information gathering at the start or throughout the life of a job.
Does an RFI change according to the project location?
A Request for Information will change from state to state. In many states, there is no official Request for Information statutory provisions requiring a response from the recipient. In states where a Request for Information is a right under the statute, the information that must be exchanged is outlined in the statute.
Does an RFI change according to the project type?
Yes and no. Depending on the project type, some of the information being requested will change. For example, a Request for Information on a public project may include a request for surety or public entity information. However, on a private project, this information will not be applicable.
What happens if a recipient ignores a Request for Information?
It’s not always clear when a party is required to respond to a Request for Information but fails to do so. In some cases, a failure to provide information might push back a deadline or create liability. In other situations, the party who sends a Request for Information that goes unanswered might be given a little leniency on a requirement related to that information. Sometimes, though, there’s no clear-cut penalty or leniency for a situation when a party refuses to respond.
What happens if I make a mistake with an RFI?
Requests for Information are pretty simple. Unlike some other documents, they aren’t usually subject to restrictive requirements. Still, a Request for Information may need to come in writing, or it may have to be mailed in a certain way.
If some requirement is not met, then the party in receipt of the notice may not have to respond. But again, most Requests for Information call for the voluntary exchange of information – so the form of the notice shouldn’t matter much.
If a Request for Information is not sent, it might be hard for the would-be requesting party to obtain certain information. While this may make it harder to send other notices or claims, failure to send a Request for Information, in and of itself, shouldn’t cause problems.
Is an RFI usually paired with anything else?
Requests for Information are often paired with preliminary notices. This provides an opportunity to get information that may have been required on the notice, or information that may be needed down the line. When a response is required, pairing a Request for Information with a preliminary notice can be extremely efficient.