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What is an RFQ in Construction?

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Last Updated May 19, 2023

In construction, the term RFQ is used to mean both request for qualifications and request for quote. 

Project owners use a request for qualifications (RFQ) to narrow down a list of contractors to find those who meet the criteria to bid on a specific project. 

General contractors use a request for quote (RFQ) during the change order process to determine the specific cost of a required change. This terminology is most common in change management software, when owners request pricing from general contractors or GCs request pricing from specialty contractors. Some contractors don’t use a formal term for this type of request, which is often simply referred to as “getting pricing.”

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at requests for qualifications, which is the most common usage of the term RFQ in the construction industry. We’ll talk about how RFQs are used, what’s typically included in an RFQ, and how RFQs compare to other types of construction requests.

Table of contents

What is a request for qualifications (RFQ) used for?

Project owners use a request for qualifications to prequalify a shortlist of potential contractors for a specific project

Project owners use a competitive bidding or proposal process to try to secure the best price for a project. That said, owners also need to ensure that the contractors they partner with have the right experience and team to complete the project. For that reason, many owners on both public and private projects use RFQs to narrow down a list of potential contractors — so that only qualified contractors are eventually awarded the project. 

Contractors respond to RFQs with a statement of qualifications (SOQ), which enables owners to determine which contractors meet the criteria required to successfully build the project.

An RFQ is often the first step in two-stage procurement. In the second step, owners will issue a request for proposal (RFP) to qualified contractors.

In other cases, a project owner may select a general contractor simply on the basis of their SOQ. This happens most commonly on public projects with a set budget and a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) contract

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What to include in an RFQ

The information required in an RFQ will vary from project to project, and the most important thing is that contractors make sure to include all of the requested details. 

Some of the most common information requested on RFQs includes:

  • List of team members who will take part in the project
  • Portfolio demonstrating past experience with similar projects
  • Intended approach to the upcoming project, including details about construction methods, materials, and potential obstacles
  • Safety information, like ratings, scores, and safety plans
  • Financial information, like cash flow statements or balance sheets
  • Proof of bonding or insurance, which could include bid bonds, performance bonds, and general liability insurance
  • References from relevant contacts, like past project owners, architects, city officials, developers, or other contractors

All of the requested information will go into a contractor’s statement of qualifications, which they’ll submit to the project owner to get prequalified to bid on the project or submit a proposal. 

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. Some of the most common requests include requests for proposal (RFP) and requests for information (RFI). 

MeaningRequest for qualificationsRequest for proposalRequest for information
PurposeGather details about a contractor’s qualifications to work on a specific projectSolicit contractor proposals about methods and costs to build a specific projectClarify information about project details, including aspects of documents like specifications, drawings, or agreements.
PhasePreconstructionPreconstructionPreconstruction and construction

Get an in-depth look at the differences between an RFQ, RFP, and RFI

During preconstruction, owners use RFPs to solicit proposals from potential contractors for a specific project. The RFP process has the goal of selecting a general contractor, which eventually leads to contract negotiation and project buyout. 

Throughout a project, contractors and other project team members use RFIs to ask questions about specifications, drawings, or agreements. For example, an RFI may seek to clarify a detail in one of the construction drawings, identify a potential design problem, or resolve an ambiguity in the specifications.

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 each phase of construction.



Written by

Ashley Greybar

Ashley Greybar brings seven years of construction experience to her role as Product Marketing Manager, Project Execution at Procore Technologies. Ashley is a specialist in bringing products to market that make it easier for teams to manage projects and comply with construction safety regulations and quality specifications. She is passionate about advancing technology within the construction industry and simplifying complex processes for general contractors, owners, and specialty contractors.

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Daniel Gray

18 articles

A lover of everything from books and board games to football and finches, Daniel specializes in writing about construction and finance topics with the goal of helping businesses grow in the construction industry.

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Reviewed by

Brad Wagner

Brad Wagner is a seasoned construction professional with an extensive background in the industry. Throughout his career, he’s worked as a foreman, field engineer, project engineer, and process improvement manager at companies like Hensel Phelps and Okland Construction. At Procore, he leverages his experience to help companies optimize their operations using construction software solutions.

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