The Scope of Work Definition in Construction


The scope of work might be the most important part of a construction agreement – even more important than the price.


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.


Without a defined scope of work, there is no way to know what work must be done by the contractor, subcontractors or suppliers. As such it is incredibly important to establish a detailed scope to show what tasks must be done, and who is responsible for those tasks.


Creating a scope of works document that adequately encompasses the works to be performed by the contract should, as best practice include a number of items.  These are:


  1. Definitions and simple language

Ensuring that the scope of work includes clear wording and terminology is imperative to reduce the risks of disputes, claims, and litigation during the project.


The scope of work should use terms that all parties are familiar and that everyone understands. The construction industry is full of industry jargon and abbreviations.  The person preparing the scope of works may be well-versed in construction industry jargon, but that does not mean that everyone else is going to know what you are talking about.   As best practice the scope of works should be drafted in such a way that anyone reading the scope of works can understand the terminology.


For those words and phrases that you cannot put into layman terms, you should put them into a glossary.


  1. Project Overview

The project overview is a brief, concise statement summarising the project description.


The overview should list critical objectives that must be achieved in order to complete the project successfully and give a short description of the project.


  1. Milestones & Deliverables

This section should detail all the objectives and targets that need to be reached throughout the lifespan of the project. As best practice it should include enough relevant information to provide contractors, subcontractors and suppliers a clear understanding of the project requirements. It should also list all the specific milestones for the project.


It is best practice for all the deliverables and objectives that are written in the scope of work to be verified, 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. Scope & Technical details

The Scope is where all the quantifiable data should be included, along with the budget and the technical specifications.


The project scope will give you essential details regarding the precise tasks and their technical aspects. This will include specific methods and techniques required for the completion of a contractors performance, along with the evaluation criteria.


  1. Schedule & Timeline

The schedule and timeline section does not need a full detailed construction schedule, but rather a general list of tasks, and related tasks for the project together with all the different delivery dates and how long the entire project will take to complete.  It is important to include when different tasks and are expected to be completed as contractors need to plan around their deadlines.


  1. Management & Administration

This section of the scope of work will include all the work that the project management team will be doing and the administrative procedures on the project.


How are variations to the scope of works handled? When and how are payments going to be issued? These questions are ideally answered in this section, along with any other pertinent contract and legal requirements.


Change in Scope

Contractors are often asked to perform work that was not included in the original contract scope of works.


This may be the result of a scope of work that did not provide enough detail on the work to be performed, or it may be due to miscommunication with the construction manager. Regardless, scope creep can quickly lead to disputes.  A well planned and drafted scope of works can limit disputes in relation to changes in scope.


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CML Lawyers is a commercial law firm in Sydney and Cowra with specialist expertise in construction law.


Support and assistance from experienced construction lawyers can make all the difference to your project and business. If you need assistance with contract preparation, negotiation or disputes in relation to a construction contract, call as for advice – 9299 2223.



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