Request For Proposal vs. Request For Quote: What’s the Difference?


A Request For Proposal (RFP) and a Request For Quote (RFQ) are very similar, and many use the terms interchangeably, but these two processes are not the same.

They both serve the same purpose of obtaining bids from vendors, but in very different ways.

Construction project managers need to understand the difference between RFPs and RFQs. So let’s define the two, explain their differences, and explain why both are important for construction project management.

What is an RFP in construction project management?

A Request For Proposal (RFP) is a posted or otherwise distributed document requesting proposals from multiple parties.

The purpose of an RFP is multifold.

  • Ensure that vendors understand the project scope and requirements
  • Find the best solution for those requirements and
  • Choose the most qualified vendor or contractor to deliver that solution. 

An RFP should include detailed information about the project scope, objectives, timeline, budget, and any other requirements the vendor or contractor must meet to be considered.

RFP responses include pricing, but the price is not necessarily the only qualifying factor. 

Who issues a Request For Proposal (RFP)?

Project owners, architects and engineers, general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers use RFPs.

RFPs are issued to gather detailed information from multiple stakeholders before making critical project decisions. 

RFPs help stakeholders obtain relevant information, such as cost, benefits, risk, scheduling, and delivery times. 

Ultimately, the RFP process helps stakeholders choose the most qualified vendor and find the best solution for their project.

When are RFPs used in construction?

A Request For Proposal (RFP) can arise at any stage in the construction process, from conception through completion.

During the preconstruction phase, project owners issue RFPs to gather information and choose their architect, engineering team, and the contractor who will construct the project.

And during preconstruction planning, general contractors use RFPs to vet and qualify their subcontractors, while subcontractors use RFPs to procure materials from their suppliers.

RFPs can also play a role in the change order process. 

Whenever an unforeseen event occurs during an ongoing project, RFPs help find the best solution, its costs, and scheduling implications.

What are the benefits of RFPs in construction project management?

Request for Proposal (RFP) documents are essential to any construction project. 

RFPs help stakeholders gather relevant information and make informed decisions by facilitating the following actions.

  • Gather detailed proposals quickly
  • Easily compare qualifications
  • Ensure vendors understand all aspects of the project
  • Find the best solution for your project

Another key benefit of RFPs is they enable project stakeholders to communicate effectively and collaborate more efficiently to ensure a successful project. 

Project owners, architects, design teams, general contractors, subcontractors, and project managers can ensure their projects are completed efficiently and on time with proper RFP utilization.

What is an RFQ in construction project management?

A Request For Quote (RFQ) is a document requesting pricing from specific stakeholders for the products or services they provide. 

RFQ documents should include all relevant details, specifications, and requirements for the requested products or services, including quantities, expected timeline, and any other conditions the vendor must meet.

Stakeholders can issue a Request For Quote (RFQ) at any stage in the construction process, from conception through completion. However, RFQs are most frequent after the project initiation stage and during the preconstruction and construction phases.

RFQs also show up during the change order process to gather pricing information related to design changes, schedule interruptions, or unanticipated events during an ongoing project.

What are the benefits of a Request For Quote (RFQ)?

RFQs allow stakeholders to gather pricing information quickly and easily based on specific details, specifications, and requirements.

The RFQ process provides respondents with a simple system for documenting critical communications and answering customers’ needs.  

Additionally, RFQs can help ensure that work on the project continues, preventing potential delays.   

When is an RFQ used in construction?

RFQs are helpful during the bidding process when a project owner or contractor plans to hire a subcontractor or supplier. 

The RFQ will outline the project’s scope, provide a timeline, and list any required qualifications.

Contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers can then submit their bids, so the project owner or general contractor can compare them to find the best fit.

But that’s not all.

RFQs are also helpful during the change order process when the design team, project owner, or general contractor needs to add or modify the scope of work.

In this instance, an RFQ pulls pricing information to document and compensate for the change order properly.

What’s the main difference between an RFP and an RFQ?

The main difference between an RFP and an RFQ is that an RFQ focuses on price, while an RFP focuses on the vendor’s qualifications, proposed solution, and cost. 

RFPs are most effective when addressing multiple contractors, vendors, or subcontractors or vendors. RFPs help the requestor evaluate the respondents and their proposed solutions.

In the construction industry, RFPs can initiate an entire project, including its design, material elements, and delivery method. RFPs are critical for seeking solutions to unforeseen events during an ongoing project.

An RFQ, on the other hand, is most useful when the material, equipment, and scope of work are clearly defined and only the cost is in question.

How do Request For Proposal (RFP) and Request For Quote (RFQ) compare? 

While both RFQs and RFPs are official contract documents essential for construction project management, they have some critical differences. 

Key takeaways:

  • A Request For Quote (RFQ) works best when you already know which product or service you want and are just looking for the best price
  • Request For Proposal (RFP) is for choosing the most qualified vendor and evaluating different solutions and approaches
  • An RFQ focuses on price, while an RFP focuses on qualifications, proposed solutions, and price.
  • Using RFQs and RFPs ensures you get competitive bids from qualified vendors and find the best option for your budget while keeping your project on schedule.


Project managers encounter Request For Proposal (RFP) documents and Request For Quote (RFQ) documents throughout the construction process and project lifecycle.

RFPs and RFQs help ensure competitive bids for specific products or services and detailed proposals from experienced, qualified vendors.

Both can help simplify the bidding process by allowing you to compare prices and qualifications quickly and easily, ensuring your projects start on time and stay on track with minimal disruptions and delays.

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