How to Outline the Scope of Work for Your Next Construction Project

Whether a new business is launching or an existing one is expanding, it’s exciting to begin a new construction project to accommodate growth and progress. However, when constructing commercial buildings, things can get complicated very quickly. A solid plan that details work and expectations for each member of your team (commonly known as a scope of work or SOW) will help.

Let’s look at what a scope of work (SOW) is and how you can implement it.

What is a Scope of Work?
Your scope of work, sometimes referred to as a statement of work, should describe in detail what is expected of the contractor and subcontractors. It will later be used as a measuring tool for your construction manager as your project progresses.

It is also helpful when you’re in the bidding or planning stage of the project. Commercial contractors and design build firms will need to know what the project entails before they can offer a project bid.

A basic scope of work should include the following components:

Project Overview – A brief statement that outlines a summary of the project and key objectives.

Project Deliverables – This portion of the SOW should outline in detail all of the expected objectives and targets for the project. This should include all relevant information that will help a contractor to understand the requirements of the project.

Project Scope – This should include all quantifiable goals for the project. Plan out certain milestones of when specific aspects of the project will be completed.

Project Schedule – This should outline a schedule of all the required tasks for the project and when they should be completed. It should also include the overall expected project duration, as well as delivery dates and certain restrictions.

Project Management – This section includes details about payments (when and how payments will be made), change orders, and contract and legal requirements. This area can also specify time management and contract administration.

Let’s now look at 5 tips that will help you to execute a solid scope of work for your upcoming project.

5 Important Tips to Plan Out a Scope of Work for Your Construction Project

1. Use Clear, Unambiguous Language
Make sure that your entire SOW is clear and concise. Don’t leave any room for interpretation. Outline which deliverables are expected and when, as well as clear objectives for the project.

If you want to convey that an action is mandatory, use words like must or shall. Define any terms that your team might find confusing; this ensures that everyone is on the same page as to what is required.

The SOW can later be used for insurance purposes, as well as potential litigation. This makes it imperative that your language be straightforward and unambiguous.

2. Define Your Goals
First, outline your goals in broad terms. Don’t get wrapped up in the tiny details during this initial step. Start with a basic model of which crews will be working on the project. This could include:

  • Foundation
  • Framing
  • Electrical
  • Insulation
  • Plumbing
  • Drywall
  • Interior finish trim

Once you have a general idea of who is involved, start to fill in some of the more minute details. For example, when do the electricians need to finish in order for your insulation team to do their job? What specific materials does the insulation crew require and what is the budget?

This is where SMART goals come into play. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic, and Time-Based. When planning out your scope of work, use the following SMART guidelines:

  • Specific – All details are well-defined and unambiguous to anyone with knowledge of the project.
  • Measurable – Materials, budget, and deadlines should all be clearly defined for each stage of the project.
  • Agreed-Upon – All parties should agree upon the terms of the scope of work.
  • Realistic – The objectives need to be sensible. For example, can your drywall team realistically achieve its objective in the given time and on-budget?
  • Time-Based – Make a reliable schedule and make sure each team has the time needed to complete their stage of the project.

3. Make All of Your Expectations and Requirements Clear
Who is responsible for materials? Who is responsible for rental equipment? How much labor is required? Assign these responsibilities ahead of time to members of your team.

While these may seem like small details, if there is any confusion about who is responsible, it can cause major delays and even affect your bottom line. Instead, nail down all of these details before the project begins. It will help the whole project run much smoother.

4. Consult with Your Teams
All teams, from framing to drywall, should be involved in writing your SOW. After all, they are the best qualified to outline the phases and requirements of their work. For example, consult with your drywall subcontractor to get details such as interior finishes, designs, prices, required materials, special requirements, and deadlines.

Subcontractors are masters at their profession and may be able to offer valuable advice on how to do things better or more on budget. Sit down with your subcontractors to go over the SOW and get their professional input.

5. Get Signatures
If there are any arguments later on, you will then have evidence that they read and agreed to the requirements you had laid out. Have each subcontractor sign a copy of your SOW to confirm that they received it and agree to abide by it.

There are many components to a commercial construction project. Don’t get buried in the details – create a clear scope of work, which will keep your entire project on track right up until your grand opening!