What Is a Scope of Work?



Once you’ve chosen a contractor he or she will provide you with a detailed scope of work (SOW), outlining the project and all of the expected costs. Both you and the contractor need to agree to the terms outlined and sign the scope before starting. Lack of communication and false expectations can lead to the breakdown of the relationship and put the project at risk, so make sure you fully understand and agree to everything in the SOW.


A scope of work should cover every aspect of the project, including:

An important thing to note on a scope of work is whether or not you (the homeowner) is responsible for anything. Be aware that if you choose to take on some projects yourself, or if you want to hire any of the sub trades yourself,  it needs to be noted in the scope and you must agree to all the responsibilities and liabilities that come with it. These can include:

Somewhere in the SOW it must state that no changes or amendments to the work order will be valid unless in writing and signed by Homeowner and Contractor. This type of amendment is called a change of work (COW).

Reno to Reveal - What is a Scope of Work
The nature of renovations is that unexpected situations and problems will occur. It’s also possible that you might want to do some things that hadn’t occurred to you when you made the original plan. These changes should be documented with a “change of work order” which includes the new work that has to be done and an invoice from the contractor. Attach this to the original scope of work so you have everything together. These documents will act as your working contract.


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