What is scope of work in construction?

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The Scope of Work Definition in Construction


The scope of work in construction is the list of construction obligations, as well as work activities that all contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers are obligated to do.  This is all written out in an agreement or contract, which is then called the scope of work.

Scope of Work Elements

  • Explains all the related tasks, limitations, and duties that are needed to obtain the results that you need
  • Outlines all the standards and regulations, as well as any special requirements
  • Identifies all the responsibilities of the contractors
  • Defines all the objectives of the contract and the requirements of the project
  • Includes the payment schedule and the contract method

Scope of Work Components

The Project Overview

The project overview is a brief statement that offers a summary of the project, while highlighting the main objectives and giving a short description of the project.

The Project Scope

All the goals of the project are laid out in the project scope.  This is where all the quantifiable data can be found, along with the budget and the tech specifications.  This is also an excellent place to list all the different milestones for the project.

The Project Deliverables

All the objectives and targets for the project should be placed under the project deliverables.

The Project Schedule

The timeline for all the work should be under the project schedule.  This will include all the different delivery dates and how long the entire project will take to complete.

Project Management

All the work that the project management team will be doing should be within the project management section of the scope of work.  This includes the payment information, the legal requirements, and any and all changes to the first contract.

5 Tips for Creating the Scope of Work

  1. Use Basic Language


You may be well-versed in construction language, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else is going to know what you are talking about.  Therefore, it is important that you use basic language in your scope of work.  For those words and phrases that you cannot put into layman terms, you should put them into a glossary.  That way, everyone else can look up what it means and there won’t be any issues later on, because it is all in writing.


  1. Break the Entire Project Down into Smaller Pieces


An entire construction project can be very long, which is why you should break it into smaller pieces for the scope of work.  You can start with broad terms and then create sections for each level of work that will be completed.  That will make it easier for anyone else to follow along with the work and know what has been completed and what is left to do.


  1. Verify All Deliverables and Objectives


Someone must verify all the deliverables and objectives that are written in the scope of work, because without that verification, the project will not stay on track.  It is imperative that work stays on track, because the budget and timeline can be affected otherwise.


  1. Add Visuals


Visuals can be very helpful in showing what things will look like at each point of the construction process.  Plus, diagrams and designs will help those doing the work, because they can see what everything is supposed to look like as it is being completed.


  1. Get Signoffs


As the scope of work is close to being completed, the people working on each part of it should signoff.  This ensures that their part of the work listed is correct and they cannot say otherwise later on.  Of course, they can still submit a change order later on, but that will need to go through the approval process.


Use Smart Goals for Your Scope of Work

When it comes to the scope of work, you must utilize smart goals to make it the best that you can.

S is for Specific – It is important that you are specific with what you hope to achieve with your scope of work.  We recommend asking the five W’s, which is who, what, why, when, and where, when creating your scope of work, so you do not leave anything unanswered.

M is for Measurable – When you measure your progress, you can stay on track easier or at least know how far behind you really are.

A is for Achievable – If you are setting goals that no one can achieve, you are always going to fail with your scope of work.  Therefore, we recommend creating achievable goals that everyone on your team can meet easily.

R is for Relevant – Everything in your scope of work should be relevant to your goals.  If what you want to do doesn’t help you reach what you want, then it shouldn’t be in your scope of work.

T is for Timely – A targeted timeline is helpful for construction projects, because it allows you to see everything that you finish along the way.  While a basic end date can suffice, these smaller due dates along the way can help you see the progress you have made and how much further you have to go.


You can have the best scope of work possible and it still might not be enough to get you through a project.  Therefore, you will want to review your scope of work quite often and make necessary changes as they are needed.

Most of the time, these changes will not affect the timeline, especially if everyone can agree to the changes quickly.  That is why you must have excellent communication with everyone involved in the project.  If communication is done regularly, you won’t need to wait weeks to hear back from one or two people.  They will know that they should check in regularly, so that changes or other issues can be addressed quickly.


Some people do not think that a scope of work is necessary, especially for smaller projects, but they can be helpful for projects of any size.  Since the payments are listed, as well as a wealth of other information, no one will ever question what to expect at any time during the construction process.  Instead of people asking a million questions, they can simply refer to the scope of work to have many of their questions answered.


Of course, they can ask questions if they cannot find the answer within the scope of work.  If that happens, you may want to make changes to that scope of work, as well as future ones, so that the answer is in there from now on.


The scope of work can save you a lot of time, while also serving as a way to stay accountable for the work that still needs to be completed on any project.


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Topics: Project management
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