Outlining a Scope of Work in Construction Management

Outlining a Scope of Work in Construction Management - by March Project Manager William Serafin

Outlining a Scope of Work in Construction Management - by March Project Manager William Serafin


The scope of work is the main document that shows the start of the project; it’s like a rule book. A well-written scope of work promotes clearly defined project objectives, which helps get our clients’ projects done correctly, on time, on-budget, and to the highest standards.

The scope of work outlines what is included – end-products, deliverables, milestones, projections, manpower, schedules, resources, costs, and reports to be provided by the performing party, i.e. March Construction.

All project managers must learn how to write a sequenced, precise, and clear-cut scope of work.   Putting it in plain writing is not always easy due to the complexity different factors and client expectations that will influence the project.

The scope of work must be:

  • Specific – All details are well-defined and unambiguous to all involved.

  • Measurable – Materials, budget, and deadlines should all be clearly defined for each stage of the project.

  • Agreed-Upon – All parties should agree upon the terms of the scope of work.

  • Realistic – The objectives need to be sensible. Can your team produce the needed work on-time and on-budget within the given constraints?  

  • Time-Based – Make a reliable schedule that has the proper amount of allotted time needed to complete each stage of the project.

 The Scope of Work is generally formatted as follows:

  • Project Overview – A brief statement that outlines a summary of the project and key objectives.

  • Project Deliverables – Details all of the expected objectives and targets for the project including all relevant information.

  • Project Scope – This should include all quantifiable goals & milestones for the project.

  • Project Schedule – This should include all tasks that need to be completed, the duration, as well as delivery dates and restrictions.

  • Project Management – This section can include details about payments, change orders, contract and legal requirements, time management and contract administration.

When writing the scope for a trade, there are standard items that will be in all scopes for this project. For example: Insurance, general house cleaning, or site specific safety issues, etc.   

There are also different types of scope of work depending on the agreement type. For lump-sum paid work vs guaranteed maximum price (GMP)/ cost plus work. With the GMP, if the design is not already complete, the scope of work completes it.

You may want to speak with your project superintendent, as they might want the scope written another way, as they will be building the project. With the scope, you want to include all the work that has to be done, either noted in the plans and specifications, or by writing it in the SOW. If you are excluding anything it is best to be mentioned here too.

So, remember when writing the scope of work – know the job, write complete sentences, be short, clear and concise, use standardized procedure (boilerplate) information. Do not be redundant, and do not dictate means and methods! Once this is written and you have your project schedule, it can be included in the contract to your subcontractor. To summarize:

  • Use clear, unambiguous language in your writing.

  • Define your main goals, then specify the details.

  • Make all of your expectations and requirements clear.

  • Consult with your teams to ensure the scope of work is in line with their project phases and requirements.

  • Get all needed signatures.

At March Construction, we are thorough throughout the entire construction management process, starting with a well-written scope of work. Our project managers write the scope of work. It is then thoroughly reviewed by our estimating/purchasing department to make sure all that is in our contract is either included or excluded if necessary.

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Article by March Project Manager William Serafin