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Steel Detailer ; Request for Information (RFI)

Steel Detailer Civil Engineering
When design documents are incomplete, steel detail drawings cannot be completed and the orderly production of detail drawings is interrupted. Due to their exacting nature, shop detail drawings must be prepared with a performance criteria that endeavors to meet a “zero-defects” standard. This standard produces speed and economy in the fabrication process and in the erection process. The state of the design documents issued for construction today frequently does not meet the “zero-defects” criteria necessary to the detailer and other suppliers. To correct this situation and construct a "paper trail" of information, it becomes necessary to use formal Requests for Information (RFI). The RFI may also be known as ECM (Engineering Clarification Memo) or DEO (Documentation of Errors and Omissions). Whatever form one chooses to use, the intent is the same; a question is asked due to missingnd/or ambiguous information on the design documents, and an answer is needed to clarify the missing and/or ambiguous information. Unfortunately, the RFI/ECM often becomes misused as a tool for the completion of design documents, rather than an instrument for clarification of completed design drawings.

The detailer, in an effort to meet project schedules, must make a thorough search of the design documents for information. During the bidding stage, it is extremely difficult to identify those items that result in inadequate design drawings, requiring the detailer to factor in the time and cost of any deficiencies. Such problems are found during the meticulous procedure of detailing, which often occurs long after award of prime contracts. First, the detailer must identify the problem. Next, the detailer must analyze the problem in order to ask an intelligent question. 
Additional manpower or supervision may be required to confirm the action of the individual discovering the problem, before the question may be forwarded. It may be necessary for sketches or supplemental drawings to be produced to illustrate the problem. Once an RFI is submitted, it means the detailer has exhausted all available resources and has a legitimate question. The exacting nature of detailing requires exact information. To make this process effective, 100% effort is required of all on the construction team to research and answer the question -- not only promptly, but also completely. The frequency of their development can easily make the hours for the detailing process multiply by 2, 4, or more times the normal amount, which may result in delays in the ordering of material and in the delivery of shop drawings. The outcome is additional compensation owed to the detailer, especially if the delay requires the detailer to demobilize, reassign, and remobilize personnel. There is obviously a potential impact to the fabricator's, the erector's, and the owner's schedules and profits as well.

Therefore, with regard to inadequate design drawings,the detailing community should take these positions:

1. It is the responsibility of the owner to allow the design professional both adequate time and financial resources to prepare a complete set of design documents.
2. It is the responsibility of the design professional to provide the owner with complete and accurate design documents that give thorough information (per AISC Code of Standard Practice) that allows the detailer to correctly interpret the design intent and to produce quality drawings.
3. It is the responsibility of the Detailer to inform the fabricator (client) of the inadequacies of the design documents during the shop drawing process and the detailing cost and schedule impact of those inadequacies.
4. It is the responsibility of the fabricator (client) to inform the contractor/owner of those same inadequacies and the resulting cost and schedule impact. (Please note: Staff hours, which are misutilized or must be reassigned, result in extra costs. Extra charges may result without the addition of drawings or material.)
5. It is the detailer’s responsibility to produce shop drawings, not to check or coordinate contract documents. Should the client desire the detailer to perform such an activity or to prepare Engineering Clarification Memos
(RFI), such activities shall be considered as extra work for which the detailer is entitled to compensation. Unless otherwise agreed to, the detailer’s right to be paid is not contingent upon the client being reimbursed.


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