• Jodi Joseph Asiag

Reduce RFI’s by Utilizing AI Architectural Technology


3D Archviz Interior Render

Unlike people, computers don’t get tired, don’t forget, and don’t make mistakes. This makes them great for automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks.


The schematic design, design development, and construction document phases are rife with numerous manual and tedious tasks that require Herculean concentration and coordination. Imagine if there was AI-powered architectural technology that provided computer-aided automation and problem-solving tools to ensure that the tiniest of details were not omitted or that a single construction sheet was not overlooked.


Detailed comprehensive and accurate design and construction documents can translate to the significant reduction of Requests For Information (RFIs). RFIs are generated by contractors as a request to clarify a condition or detail in the design drawings. On many projects, multiple RFIs are written and submitted every day — beginning when the contractors are first awarded a project and continuing through the shop drawing and construction phases.


A percentage of the architect’s responses to RFIs become change orders because the resolution to the question raised can require additional work not known at the time of contractor bid preparation. So RFIs can result in increased cost of construction, schedule delay, and time devoted by both the contractors and the architect’s team to research and resolve the question.


3 Benefits From Reduced RFI's: higher accuracy in drawings, less hours managing the project, and gaining faster approval.

AI also acts as a Quality Assurance tool


What if RFIs rarely happened – they were rare exceptions, rather than a dreaded time-gobbler and cost risk? It’s not only possible, it’s already happening thanks to AI. Artificial intelligence tools can drastically reduce the number of technical questions that may arise from drawings and other documentation that isn’t clear.


Often, RFIs are the direct result of errors in design documents, resulting in time consuming communications and drawing revisions among the architect, engineers and contractors. By using machine learning-generated documents (and taking human error out of the process), you’re able to significantly reduce the errors and omissions that cause RFIs.


Taking a simple example, ensuring the room dimensions and wall thicknesses are correct across all design documentation. An AI algorithm can state that the sum of the string of dimensions must equal the total length across a floor to the edge of the slab. Then the system quickly and automatically crunches the data and generates the correct dimensions. After which, a related algorithm will check that room dimensions and wall thicknesses are still correct.


A computer can do this in nanoseconds. How long do you think it would take a team of architects to check and confirm this data? Now, ask yourself, why should they? The architect's time should be spent on solving critical design issues, not manually checking dimensions.


The number of RFIs generated just to calculate and correct dimensions shown on drawings can be in the hundreds on a large project! There are many examples of categories of RFIs including doors and door hardware, finishes, locations of fire and smoke dampers, lighting, fitting of HVAC systems above ceilings, sizing of ducts and piping, and countless other details. The cost of the RFI can be exorbitant in terms of management resources, architect labor, general contractor time, and wasted materials.

Reducing RFIs by a significant amount means that fewer hours will be needed by construction companies to manage this aspect of the project. Fewer management hours enable more competitive bidding and lower the cost of the project, thanks to AI-driven design and construction documents. Fewer RFIs also mean fewer change orders associated with drawing errors or lack of clarity in the drawings.


As documents produced with AI and machine learning software become the norm, projects may gain faster permit approval with fewer comments by the building department. Less time will be needed to prepare shop drawings because the design drawings will be more accurate and the team will be ready to start construction sooner. The result is earlier project completion dates, higher quality, and lower costs.


Interested in learning how to reduce the number of RFIs on your projects? Visit here to speak with a SWAPP expert.