The Scoop on the Scope-Have a plan before you start building

Have you ever noticed how unorganized projects take twice as long to complete and even then, the results are often unsatisfactory? This can occur when there is no clear objective or defined means of reaching it.

One of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your construction project is to create a "scope of work”a document that describes the project's objective and the construction activities that need to be performed. Although creating a scope of work for a construction project can be a challenging undertaking, you should do as much as possible given your knowledge of construction. Anyone can easily draft a scope of work for a small project.

Developing a scope of work begins with defining the project in broad terms. Although there is no standardized scope of work format or process for developing this document, the following example achieves the objective of a scope of work.

Project Goal Harris Kitchen Remodel
Tasks Remove and replace upper and lower kitchen cabinets
Remove and replace kitchen countertops
Remove and replace kitchen sink and faucet
Paint walls and ceiling


As the scope of work continues to be developed, the steps, or activities, required to accomplish these tasks must be defined. The Harris kitchen remodel requires the following:

Construction Activities/Elements (Harris Kitchen Remodel)

  • Demolition (removal of existing cabinets, countertops, sink, faucet)
  • Paint
  • Cabinetry
  • Countertop
  • Plumbing
  • General clean


Thoroughly describing each activity is an important step toward eliminating misunderstandings regarding needed work. As a rule of thumb, it is better to provide too much, rather than too little, information in the scope of work. It is also essential to specify if labor, materials, and equipment are to be provided.


Further Defined Activity Description (Harris Kitchen Remodel)


Labor, Material, and Equipment List:

Demolition Remove existing upper and lower cabinets, countertops, sink, and faucet to dumpster
Paint Paint all kitchen walls Behr 854 Aztec Dawn Semi-Gloss, 2 coats
Paint kitchen ceiling Behr 652 Florida White Semi-Gloss, 2 coats

Remove debris to dumpster and broom clean
Cabinetry Measure and install upper and lower Kitchen Kraft Toscana Series Birch with #202 knobs (see attached brochure)
Remove debris and broom clean
Countertops Measure and install Corian Prairie Trail with bullnose edging
Remove debris to dumpster and broom clean
Plumbing Install Moen Chardonna #26884 sink “ chrome finish
Install Moen Senore #90552 faucet “ chrome finish
Remove debris to dumpster and broom clean
General clean Remove any remaining debris to dumpster, broom clean


The importance of developing a concise and inclusive scope of work cannot be overstated because it provides the contractors with the information necessary to bid and perform the job properly. Whether you are building a new home or simply replacing an existing water heater, the project needs to be clear. If an activity is overlooked, so is its cost! Money also needs to be set aside for contingencies-those events that are not certain to occur. For example, drywall may be damaged during the Harris kitchen remodel and consequently, it may need to be repaired. Because this unknown condition is a possibility, you may want to set aside up to 10% of the contract amount for these expenses.

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t @
06:12PM on January 04, 2010
Thanks for the SOW template. That really helps.
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