Construction & Renovation Scope of Work

Scope of Work Inclusions / The importance of ACCURATELY detailing the required scope of work

The importance of accurately detailing the entire scope of work that is required for each discipline, on a construction project, is vitally important to the overall success of that project.  There should be no stone unturned, in the attempt to accurately list the required scope of work, to the contractor, as well as communicate the importance of this scope of work by accurately discussing and agreeing on this scope of work in person, with a handshake occurring when completed, to seal the deal. Yes, I know it is considered, old fashion, but the personal knowledge that you have discussed what is required, and agreed, means a tremendous amount, when disagreements and issues occur on the project.

Sending an email does NOT have the same effect!

Unfortunately, there has been a tendency for inexperienced individuals that do not have the confidence in their ability to generate an accurate scope of work, to provide a vague clouded scope of work, as a means of hiding behind what they do not understand.  The thought process that supports this very limited scope detailing, is to have the ability in the future to argue, and basically bullshit their way through any disagreement, by creating an illusion of misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the scope.  They don’t understand it, so why should the opposing party?  


Please trust me on this, I have been paid lots of money, to clarify and complete projects, which had no detailed scopes of work and therefore no chance of success.

All large, experienced, professional general contractors and subcontractors, engage in serious and detailed scope review meetings, with the party that they are making an agreement with.  These scope review meetings are formal meetings, held in the issuing parties’ offices, and either video or audio taped.  Each of these scope meetings will be followed up, with detailed meeting minutes, which clearly identify the meeting discussion, and clearly list the required scope of work.  The meeting should end with as many of the vague issues resolved and both parties confident that they understand the scope of work required by the contract.

There is NOTHING positive, that will result, when the scope of work is either incomplete or vague.  This method of contracting went out in the 50’s; however, it was much different in those days, because the majority of agreements were simple handshakes, between knowledgeable and experienced contractors.  Unfortunately, in today’s wonderful construction business, there are several individuals who feel that they are vocally capable of talking their way out of all issues.  There is an illusion amongst the less professional contractors, to simply let the courts decide who is right or wrong.  This attitude is propagated by individuals that are both inexperienced, unprofessional and lack any real knowledge of the construction industry.  

What are some of the most important details, which must be clearly identified, within the scope of work for subcontractors? In many cases, some of these items may be clarified within the body of the contract itself and are not necessarily listed within the attachment entitled “Scope of work “.

  1. Documents.  The entire updated list of contract documents is required including all addendums, sketches, specifications, bulletins, or any other formally issued document that describes the project.  
  2. Schedule.  The updated construction schedule must be included in the scope of work responsibility.  If possible, it is important to clearly designate the specific work scope for the individual contractor on the schedule and discuss the interaction of this work with other trades on the project.
  3. Safety.  The need to perform all of the work required by the specific scope of work in a safe and OSHA approved manner.  The inclusion of job box safety meetings, morning reminders, etc. must be included within the scope.
  4. Cleanup.  Each contractor must be responsible for their own cleanup on a daily basis. It is also a good idea to include the various penalties if this scope of work item is not accurately and precisely performed.  I prefer an ever increasing penalty for repeated infractions.
  5. Supervision.  It is essential and mandatory that each contractor have onsite, a competent and knowledgeable supervisor.  A good clause to include is the ability to request a replacement of the supervisor, if the current supervisor is not performing up to the standards required by the project.
  6. Submittals.  Each contractor must be responsible for their submittals as described within the contract documents.  Submittals must include everything that is referenced by the contract documents such as mock ups, samples, certification, MSDA sheets, etc.
  7. Confirmation of the Procurement Schedule.  There must be a confirmation and compliance of the procurement schedule. As stated within this website, procurement is KEY to the success of any project.  List this requirement, clearly in the scope of work.
  8. Adequate manpower.  The contractor must supply adequate manpower, in accordance with the construction schedule. Interpretation of the term “ adequate manpower “ must be clarified on the scope of work and clearly discussed at the face to face, scope review meeting.
  9. Notice of non- compliance.  Include a clause that clearly identifies the amount of time that will be allowed, from the notice to correct issued by the primary contractor, and the correction of the issue.  Normally this would be a 48 or 72 hour window to correct any non-compliance. This is very important, especially if there is a removal from the jobsite.  Accuracy on this time requirement is legally important.
  10. Document intent.  A clause in each scope of work must include a statement similar to; the intent of these drawings and specification is for contractors in all trades to furnish a complete project to owner.  Contractors shall furnish all labor, supervision, materials, and equipment necessary to complete the entire work intended by the documents.  This requirement has become more common in the last several years.  Each owner and architect are trying desperately to include a requirement within their contractual agreements that basically states,

“If we missed it on the documents, and you know it needs to be there, you own it! “  The discussions surrounded this concept will be left for another article; however, if they include this clause in their formal legal agreements, you must also.

These ten items should be included in all scope of work attachments, to contracts between two parties on a construction project.

Each scope of work must also include specific items of inclusion, dependent upon the individual disciplines or trades that are involved.  This is a more difficult summary, due to the fact that each project, each owner, architect, insurance agency, bonding company, etc. will have different requirements and inclusions, that are necessary to discuss and communicate between two contractual parties.  In addition, the realization that a specific item should be included, many times, comes after a failure on a preceding project.  However, I will attempt to summarize some of these particular issues.

  1. Bonding.  What are the requirements between the two parties to share bonding costs?  Obviously this is totally dependent upon the individual project.  The majority of times, the larger major subcontractors, such as the mechanical and electrical contractors will share in the bond cost or required to produce their own separate bond for the project.  It is common to allocate the bonding costs, based upon the values of the individual contracts in comparison to the total value of the project.
  2. Insurance.  The insurance requirements, special and standard, must be clearly identified, to ensure that both parties are cognizant of the projects and the owner’s requirements. Specialty insurance coverage must be carefully evaluated.  Such items as underpinning or blasting, may require special insurance coverage, these costs must be associated with the proper subcontractors.
  3. Liquidated damages.  Again, dependent upon the project, the liquidated damage clause of the contract, if it exists, must be discussed, and a responsibility for these damages shared between the contractual parties.
  4. Payment terms.  If there are special payment terms, or special provisions between the two contractual parties, they must be communicated and documented. All financial agreements must be formally documented either in the body of the contract or in the specific scope of work.  
  5. Retainage accommodations.  What are the retainage agreements between the two parties, and how do they relate to the payment terms of the contract? Is there reduction of retainage clauses, or limited retainage provisions?
  6. Supervision requirements.  Although this was also included in the first list of contractual scope items, any special provisions, such as additional superintendents, foreman, etc. must be clearly and accurately identified. What are the requirements for proper project supervision, such as OSHA 30 requirements or special safety certifications?
  7. Special inspection requirements.  Dependent upon the project, there may be special inspection requirements that need to be shared between the two contractual parties.  Special inspections are becoming more common on projects due to the liability issues and the complexity of projects.  In addition, the third party inspector requirement has become very popular, in efforts to deflect any responsibility from the project architects and engineers, and place the responsibilities on the third party inspectors.

The last section of this webpage, regarding scopes of work, is associated with each specific trade.  These are especially difficult to list in one comprehensive list of items, due to the requirement that individuals be both experienced and knowledgeable regarding the specific project, as well as the normal, standard scope of work that is expected from each trade.  If you have not been associated with construction, and have not been exposed by certain repeated issues on every project, you will not have the sense of urgency to include these items, within the scope of work, nor the frustration, when they are repeatedly missed. It is OK to swing and miss the first time, but after the third strike, you are normally out of swings.  Repeated issues that were not acknowledged on the scope of work should not occur.  I recommend keeping, a running list of issues, which were missed or misinterpreted, for future reference when developing scopes of work.

I will attempt to list the items that have repeatedly plagued me in my career, regarding specific scope items, per specific trade. This is an incomplete list and must be expanded, each time you trip over another missed scope item, or an incomplete analysis of work responsibilities.


  1. Ensure that all of the erosion control, storm water monitoring, EPA requirements and miscellaneous environmental requirements are included. Dust control, mud control, truck washes, etc.
  2. Traffic control is very important, especially if there are street utility obligations.
  3. Sidewalk permits / specifically identify responsibility both on the site and financially
  4. Street opening permits / specifically identify responsibility both on the site and financially
  5. Blasting permits and vibration monitoring
  6. Special inspection and monitoring requirements for the specific items within this scope of work.
  7. Compaction inspection services / selection of Engineering firm as well as financial obligations
  8. Street and City bonding requirements for signage, traffic signals, landscaping, etc.
  9. Special blasting or underpinning insurance requirements.  Monitoring of these issues
  10. Permitted techniques for existing utility excavation, such as hydro excavation requirements.
  11. Special engineering requirements for blasting or underpinning.
  12. Pile requirements and submittals
  13. Pile installation, field inspection reporting
  14. Responsibility for foundation as-built / this could be the concrete trade’s responsibility.
  15. As – built responsibility for utilities, etc.
  16. Call before you dig responsibility CBYD
  17. LEED material and submittals
  18. Temporary winter protection
  19. Site maintenance, frost removal, mud removal, snow removal
  20. Concrete access such as ramps, etc. for concrete placements
  21. Site access for all trades, haul roads, etc.


  1. Coordination with mechanical, sprinkler and electrical
  2. Safety issues / schedule of demolition
  3. Removal of material / dumpster coordination
  4. Hazardous material coordination
  5. Environmental hazards / dust and asbestos
  6. Shoring responsibilities / coordinate with sitework, mason, concrete
  7. Overtime requirements / demolition when other trades not on site


  1. Design mix obligations / reports / submittals / approvals
  2. Reinforcing bar obligations / shop drawings / erection drawings
  3. Formwork documents / erection drawings
  4. Specialty concrete / high strength / admixtures
  5. Proper stripping of formwork, with obligation for surface consistency and coloration
  6. Proper patching and pointing of all concrete surfaces
  7. Documents indicating all expansion and control joints
  8. LEED material and submittals
  9. Pour schedules including daily reports indicating pours and schedules
  10. Temporary winter protection
  11. All necessary sealers and curing compounds
  12. Proper subsurface preparation for any overlays
  13. Special accommodations for post / pre tensioning / or other specialty concrete requirements
  14. Embedment coordination
  15. Electrical, mechanical, sprinkler coordination.
  16. LEED requirements


  1. Mortar, grout submittals
  2. Block, brick, precast submittals
  3. Any specialty usage of contractors such as “ Spec Mix “
  4. Construction and expansion joint layout
  5. Earthquake reinforcing requirements.
  6. Grout requirements
  7. Specialty requirements for scaffold, tower cranes, movable scaffolds, etc.
  8. Mockup requirements
  9. Sample requirements
  10. LEED requirements

Structural steel and miscellaneous metals

  1. All proper shop drawings
  2. Erection drawings
  3. Erection sequence and coordination with construction scheduling
  4. Fire proofing coordination
  5. Coordination with all trades / especially for penetrations, façade requirements as well as roof top supports.
  6. Primer?  Is there a shop coat of primer or is it bare steel.
  7. Specialty steel such as special shapes, special inspection requirements
  8. Specialty coatings such as galvanizing
  9. Stainless steel requirements
  10. Special inspections at the plant
  11. Certified welding requirements
  12. Third party inspections  / plant and site inspections
  13. LEED requirements


  1. Material certifications, fire ratings, etc.
  2. Pressure treated materials / understanding of requirements
  3. Fasteners / in many cases, this trade will exclude the fasteners / I recommend inclusion
  4. Onsite material protection upon delivery
  5. Distribution of material on the jobsite.
  6. Coordination, window, door, all other trades.
  7. Header and support coordination with all trades
  8. Sheathing identification, project name, etc.
  9. Building wrap specialty
  10. Special inspection for framing, etc.
  11. Installation specifics; doors, windows, etc.
  12. AWC requirements / American Wood Council or other agency requirements
  13. LEED requirements

Moisture Protection

  1. Type of roof membrane, 15 lb felt, specialty membrane, etc. / this is normally a vague issue
  2. Certification of all roofing requirements
  3. Fasteners / special applications or requirements
  4. Length of warranty and guarantee
  5. Manufacturers certifications
  6. LEEDS requirements
  7. Vapor barrier placement / it is essential to identify and clarify the placement of required vapor barriers
  8. On site manufacturer’s rep / review of installed work
  9. Flashing responsibility and coordination / masonry and carpentry

Interior Finishes

  1. Mock up requirements
  2. Subsurface responsibility
  3. Protection of finished surfaces / need to identify the responsibility / coordinate with schedule
  4. Cleaning and sealing of the finishes / when in the construction process
  5. Waxing or special sealer applications required by the manufacturer
  6. Coordination with other trades due to ventilation requirements or special safety considerations (example, the spraying of intumescent paint will produce vapors or fumes that need to be coordinated with other trades) this type of coordination must be identified within the scopes of work.
  7. LEED requirements
  8. Paint coordination with mechanical and electrical ( example, painting of gas-lines)

Conveying systems (elevators, escalators, lift, etc.)

  1. Identify usage during construction  
  2. Detail maintenance requirements once the construction work is completed
  3. Safety data and coordination


  1. Operating manuals
  2. Site review and educational meeting for maintenance employees
  3. Temperature controls / in many cases, the temperature controls are not picked up due to a miscommunication between the mechanical contractors and the electrical contractor
  4. Motor starters / coordinate with electrical trade
  5. Fuses / coordinate with electrical trade
  6. Replacement filters, screens, belts, etc.  
  7. Coordination of equipment for temporary construction use / detail what is required
  8. Certification of warranty and guarantee / equipment
  9. Certification by required manufacturers rep
  10. Start- up requirements ( each project will have a different requirement for start-up procedures )
  11. Dependent upon the project / temporary heat responsibility
  12. As – built responsibilities
  13. LEED responsibilities
  14. Pipe and ductwork identification


  1. Design requirements / drawings
  2. Coordination with mechanical, electrical and structure
  3. Construction protection / fire barrels / extinguishers / identify responsibility
  4. Coordinate with interior finishes for escutcheon plates
  5. Fire pump / capacity and volume analysis
  6. Coordination with Water Company / identify responsibilities
  7. Certification and testing
  8. Fire Department coordination and final inspection / identify responsibilities
  9. Special systems such as Ansel systems
  10. As-built requirements
  11. LEED requirements


  1. Temporary lighting and power requirements
  2. Specialized power requirements for specific trades, such as spray fireproofing
  3. Temperature controls / coordinate with mechanical requirements
  4. Motor starters / coordinate with mechanical requirements
  5. Fuses / coordinate with mechanical
  6. Lamp responsibilities
  7. Data and low voltage responsibilities
  8. LEED responsibilities
  9. Site review and educational meeting for maintenance employees
  10. Panel schedules / proper installation and presentation


There are particular scope items, which are custom, to each specific project being built.  If the project is a large mechanical project, then the scope of work for the mechanicals must be closely monitored and reflected.  If the project requires sophisticated phasing, then the individual trade scopes must be customized to accommodate the phasing requirements.  

It is vitally important, that specific scopes of work, be clearly and accurately identified for each trade, and included within the formal contracts between the contractors.  It is recommended, that there be a personal, in person, review of the required scope of work for each trade.  This will require a knowledgeable and experienced project manager, as well as the time and place, to hold the meetings.  

Vagueness and minimal scope identification is an indication of both inexperience and illogical, unprofessional thinking.  It is also an indication to those involved with the contract negotiations, that there will be several issues that will become problems as the project advances.  Also lack of accuracy and details, will guarantee several occurrences of disagreement, amongst the participants in the contract.

Remember, if you are using vagueness to hide behind, the other contractor will do the same thing!  

Be specific, detailed and professional when developing the scope of work for your contracts.  A detailed, accurate and comprehensive identification of trade scope is mandatory to the success of any relationship between parties, as well as the entire construction project!

If you don’t know, take the time to ask someone that is experienced and knowledgeable regarding the scope of work you are detailing.

Do not take the easy way out and simply say “EVERYTHINGS INCLUDED “this will NOT work!


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