Sourcing Your Scope Of Work: The How And What

A Scope of Work sets the tone for your whole project, so make sure you leave no stone unturned and no question un-asked.

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scope of work

In a previous article, a breakdown of the Scope of Work was explained, with an overview of the who, what, when, where, and hows. Now, though, what do you do with that information? Looking even farther into the Scope of Work (SOW), we know the information you include can make or break the long term plan being laid out. So how you do you source clear and accurate data while covering all the points you need to hit?

Scope of WorkTo outline the necessities in your SOW, you can break it down into nine pieces: purpose statement; contractor responsibilities; owner responsibilities; project execution requirements; quality, quantity, and means of execution; project timeline; payment and reporting schedules; related tasks; and contractor performance evaluations. These sections will help clearly lead the reader to one specific conclusion, leaving no room for interpretation and eliminating ambiguity.

In order to be clear and complete, you’ll have to gather a lot of data. We did the leg work to identify exactly where you should source your information from:

Plans and Specs

Existing plans and specifications for identical or similar buildings should be a go-to resource. These documents (including the scope) are an amazing source of information including drawings, details on the materials and products used, installation methods, and quality of work.


Unexpected things happen on a job site, and contractors stray from even the best plans and specs from time to time. Studying as-built documents can explain why plans were deviated from and how. This will help owners prepare for changes or, ideally, prevent them.

Site Visits

Scope of WorkFor the Context Scope, there is no substitute for visiting a project site. A site visit will help inform challenges to equipment and material delivery, the conditions and operations of the existing facility, and give a close-up look at potential security concerns. Walking the project area reveals ground-level knowledge owners can use to “build it before they build it.”


Trustworthy vendors have a wealth of experience and see projects through the lens of that experience. This sort of help and advice can help ensure scope is useful and complete.

Third-Party Data

A construction cost database is typically associated with estimating, but access to verified, impartial data is invaluable for scope development as well. A robust cost database can fill in knowledge gaps and account for details owners may not consider. For example, RSMeans data from Gordian includes assembly models where construction tasks are grouped together and square foot models that provide an early idea of overall costs. This includes all the components and labor associated with complex jobs and is invaluable in the early planning stages and for validating estimates.

There is no such thing as too much data. Knowing what information you need and how to use it in your scope will prove invaluable to your planning process. A Scope of Work sets the tone for the whole project, so make sure you leave no stone unturned and no question un-asked.

Learn more about how your Scope of Work can lead you to a realistic budget in this eBook.