There are many companies that claim that they offer design/build services. But if they don’t offer scope development, then they really aren’t a true design build firm. So what’s so important about having a scope of work? You may be familiar with the expression: the devil is in the details. That’s definitely true in remodeling. While you can’t plan for every contingency, a developed scope of work will help cover details that may otherwise be overlooked. It can also help you form the best possible estimate for what your project will realistically cost.
So here is what a scope of work actually entails, thanks to this definition from Udemy.
“The Scope of Work (SOW) is a formal agreement document that specifies all the criteria of a contract between a service provider (vendor) and the customer. It clearly documents the project requirements, milestones, deliverables, end products, documents and reports that are expected to be provided by the vendor.”
Because it’s part of the work contract itself, the scope of work allows for a clear understanding for all parties involved. Everything from homeowner requirements to the complete outline of the project is included. Every tiny detail is scrutinized and included for the protection of all involved. The last thing you want is for some important detail to be forgotten. By having everything spelled out in a document, everyone has a chance to be on the same page at all time.
One of the major parts of a scope of work is setting objectives and realistic project timelines. You’ve probably heard lots about projects being broken down into phases. This is all outlined in a scope of work. Each phase has to be spelled out completely. While working out of all this can take some time, it’s well worth it to dispel any potential confusion. If any communication breakdowns do happen, you always have the scope of work to refer back to in that case.
Also, the scope of work includes any maintenance agreements, warranties, and any other terms and conditions that apply. Of course, there are likely going to be unforeseen issues not covered by the scope of work. The scope of work actually has to make allowances for these sorts of things. Many projects, especially those being done in older homes, have a percent of the estimated budget dedicated as a contingency. This is the most common way of dealing with this. If that contingency isn’t enough, this is when the scope of work helps protect the homeowner by not allowing for cost overruns unless authorized by the owner.
You’ve probably seen on many remodeling shows how something will come up and the contractor has to discuss modifying another part of the project in order to keep it on budget. This is actually because there is a scope of work governing the project. Without having this contractual protection, you could suddenly find yourself spending more money before you even realize what is happening.
So why is it best to have a scope of work? It acts as protection for both the homeowner and contractor, as well as any other parties involved, that the project is being executed as promised. Without the scope of work, there become gray areas that can lead to problems on both sides. By having a written, legal agreement, the likelihood of any potential problems is reduced by leaps and bounds. So if you’re working with a contractor, make sure that they follow up with a scope of work before work begins. You’ll be happy you did.