Writing Construction work scopes for different trades

When writing work scopes, have your specs and drawings open in front of you all the time and try not to duplicate what is already indicated in those documents. What you should primarily include in your work scope mainly are, clarifying the areas that the subcontractor might tell you later that it wasn’t part of his deal, as well as clarifying the gray areas that may occur during execution of the work, due to the construction methods applied.

Pay attention to items that might not be clear between two different trades because if such an item exists, most probably both of those subcontractors are going to raise their hands up and refuse to do that scope and demand extra money from you. This can not only cost you money but delays as well.

For instance, if you have welding shown between steel studs and structural frame somewhere, clarify if your structural steel or framing subcontractor will do it. Include it in one of those work scopes. Other than the gray areas between two trades, you need to think about what will actually take place in the field and cover those items. For instance, the specifications may not tell you if field measuring for a certain trade is required or but you are the one who should clarify it. Or the protection of an item for example, after it is finished, such as an aluminum handrail. Or the coordination of putting backing on the wall for millwork for example. Or the hoisting and scaffolding. who is doing it? Who does the footings of your perimeter fencing? Fence subcontractor? Concrete subcontractor? Who does the excavation for underground trenching? Earthwork subcontractor, or utility subcontractor who will run the utility there? Who makes the connection of building utilities to site utilities?

In addition, it is always good to have an exclusion section, so that whatever you excluded in one subcontractor’s scope can be included somewhere else. i.e. electrical wiring and hookup of an operable partition, where you will need to specifically include in the electrical subcontractor’s scope. Bottom line is, if you are the General Contractor on the job, it is your duty to coordinate trades and the general construction activities for every trade. If you don’t, you can definitely expect that you will incur cost and schedule impacts because of everybody trying to make his own job easier and you will have nothing in your hand to make them do things in the way you want.

Important thing to keep in mind when writing work scopes is that, with any trade, you can use their quote for help but it is your scope of work that is being signed and what matters. Do not sign quotes and send back to your subcontractor. Always make your own scope of work and have that one signed by both parties. Even if both are exactly the same – which in almost no cases it will. Remember that everybody writes their quotes to their benefit and there will be items in there such as exclusions that you may not want to sign… Plus, as mentioned above, all of the coordination items need to be mentioned in the work scope. Therefore, make it your policy that you write a standard format work scope for every trade and have those signed.

Comparing bids and writing bid notes:

When you write work scopes, you can benefit greatly from the work scopes written by the subcontractors. Bid comparison between subctontractors is not only necessary for getting the numbers right but also for writing work scope later. You must analyze the work scope and make a bid comparison sheet in order to compare the bids one by one. Be as detailed as possible and try to make things apples to apples. Many times the difference in price is not due to one guy being lower or higher, but it is due to different inclusions and exclusions in the bids. List all items pertaining to that work scope and then check all the quotes against that list. A good way to start that list is from one of the most detailed quotes that you receive as these people are the experts on that trade. However you will need to do your own homework and analyze the drawings and specifications no matter what. Never just rely on others work when comparing bids. You can also use this checklist later when you are writing your scope of work for that subcontractor. Actually, a better way to do this is to write your own checklist, call it bid notes, send it to your subcontractors and have them bid the same work scope… Require them to include and check all items you want from them. This way you will have the identical bids from the start. Although this is a better way, it is not always practical due to time constraints sometimes.. But sooner or later you will need to make this checklist, that is absolutely necessary.

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