client and contractor going over scope of work document

Scope of Work: What It Is and Why You Need One

When potential clients reach out to us for quotes, one of the first questions we ask them is if they have architectural drawings or a scope of work for their project. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. We always want to educate and explain why these items are not only nice to have, but actually a necessity for the construction bidding process and beyond.

The scope of work is a core component of the construction agreement. It stipulates all construction obligations and duties of all parties involved in a construction project. This includes project managers, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers. 

Typically, the scope of work is a separate document attached to the construction agreement. But sometimes, it’s featured as a section in the contract. It’s a key document in project management that is used to track the progress of a construction project. It also ensures that every party to the project is always on the same page. 

Why is a Scope of Work Important?

The preparation of an accurate scope of work is fundamental for a successful construction project. It ensures the achievement of project goals within the stipulated schedule, budget, and quality requirements. A meticulously prepared scope of work guarantees accurate communication and interpretation of all aspects of the project to all parties.

A carelessly prepared, inaccurate, or vague scope of work will cause problems pertaining to the scope, cost, schedule, quality, and other diverse aspects pertaining to a construction project. Mistakes that arise from a deficient document may cause unnecessary disputes and errors that may be very expensive to amend. 

In addition to the above points, a detailed scope of work is essential to ensure that bids received from multiple contractors can be compared apples to apples. Without this document, it will be next to impossible to know what is or is not included in any bids you receive.

Components of a Scope of Work

This document acts as a point of reference for the construction team. It averts miscommunication, confusion, and misaligned expectations. Some of its core components include:

1. Project Overview

This is a brief statement that offers a short but clear description of the project and highlights the main objectives.

2. Milestones and Deliverables

This section outlines all set goals that have to be reached through the entire lifespan of the project. The stipulated targets and deliverables provide sufficient information and insights to the project manager, contractors, and other parties for a clear and in-depth understanding of the project requirements. This information should be accessible to the team until the conclusion of the project.

3. Scope and Technical Details

The project scope provides the construction team with critical details that pertain to tasks and their precise technical aspects. Specific methods and techniques essential for the performance of contractors and quality of the project are outlined, as well as the evaluation criteria.

4. Schedule and Timeline

This section doesn’t provide a detailed schedule for the entire construction project but a list of all tasks and subtasks that pertain to the project. Contractors and the entire team need to plan around the set deadlines. The project timeline, delivery dates, and completion milestones should be communicated to every member of the construction team.

5. Management and Administration

This is the section that defines the management and administrative aspects of the project. This includes any changes to the contract, legal requirements, processes to be followed in case of changes or alternations in work, limitations of the project, and payment information.

How to Write a Scope of Work

Writing a great scope of work requires that you critically think through each step of the project. A good scope of work averts unnecessary costs, disputes, and delays.

1. Use Basic Language, Clear Terminology, and Definitions

Having a clear and concise scope of work ensures that everyone can read and understand it. It’s also important that you include a glossary section for technical terms and industry jargon. This prevents misinterpretation hence disputes and litigation.

2. Set Realistic Goals and Targets

Project goals should be ambitious yet realistic. They should be broad enough for easy reference yet specific to provide direction and information necessary for performance. Construction project objectives should state the required resources, such as time and materials required for each task. This ensures that team members know what they need and how much time they have to complete each task.

3. Include Visual Aides

Drawings, photos, and graphs are an excellent way of ensuring there’s no speck of vagueness on your scope of work. Visual aides simplify the document and aid in interpretation.

4. Have Contractors, Subs, and other Key Parties Sign-off

This is a simple yet effective way of ensuring that every member of the project team has received, read, and understood their obligations stipulated on the scope of work. They can also sign after achieving defined objectives and milestones.

A scope of work is critical to the success of a construction project. If you need a detailed written scope of work for your upcoming commercial construction renovation but are unsure of where to start, find a contractor that can provide this service for you. It will be well worth the small up-front investment to ensure that you are getting comparable quotes for exactly what you want and need for your project.

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