The typical commercial construction project generates on the order of 3,000 to 20,000 RFIs (Requests for Information). It’s a staggering number, especially considering reviewing and documenting each RFI takes time. Studies show each RFI resolution costs about $1,000 in time and labor, even when BIM design tools are utilized.
RFIs are an indication of a lack of understanding of the design, as well as a lack of close coordination among the project teams. Further, RFIs are the source of changes in scope, costing the project owner more time and money than expected.
For AEC teams aiming to improve performance and predictability in construction, the goal should be to reduce RFIs as much as possible.
One way to do this is to get all team members on the same page early in the design process. A building lifecycle management (BLM) approach can facilitate this, drastically reducing RFIs and change orders.
BLM success story: One Island East, Hong Kong
Swire Properties Ltd. applied BLM processes and technologies for its One Island East tower in Hong Kong. The 70-story, 1.75 million square foot project was delivered on time, and with zero cost overruns.
3D clash detection became a primary vehicle for early collaboration and enhanced coordination. Over 2,000 issues were identified and resolved prior to tender. As a result, the One Island East project team issued just 140 RFIs—a 93% reduction from traditional construction coordination processes.
Incentivizing the shift to early collaboration
The benefits of closely coordinated teams might be clear cut for to the project owner: a project that is delivered on time and on budget. However, individual members of the design and construction team might not be so quick to invest in a change to BLM processes that enable this improved coordination.
Typical construction project budgets include a healthy contingency, meant to cover overruns caused by RFIs and change orders. A portion of the contingency can be reallocated as a fee for the design firm and subcontractors to work on identifying issues that create RFIs.
Thus, re-allocating a portion of the contingency becomes an incentive for eliminating jobsite problems before they arise. Technology can support the detection and resolution of these problems earlier—when these issues are less costly to resolve.
The benefits of a collaborative approach
Such early coordination among team members can dramatically reduce RFIs, preventing budget and schedule inflation. Moreover, owners benefit in the long run by having a project team focused on improving operational performance.
AEC teams that put the tools in place to improve project coordination are better prepared to turnover a project that can ease maintenance and operations throughout the building’s lifecycle. And they’ll be able to improve their own bottom-line as well.