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Scope Of Work

 
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Old 11-02-2014, 08:36 PM   #1
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Scope Of Work


After reading a bunch of posts about misunderstandings with customers, I've been wondering if some folks understand what's in a contract's scope of work. I know that this may seem too basic, but I've seen some sketchy SOWs. One of the worst, that led to a full-on battle between the contractor and homeowner, was something like this: "Scope of work: kitchen, white, Shaker."

So I thought I'd write down my thinking. The perspective here is small remodeler/general contractor, doing remodeling and additions on single family homes. Commercial is entirely different. The goal with homeowners is to describe the project in a way that is complete, and that means the same thing to both the contractor and the homeowner.

So:

A summary. Maybe this:
“Summary scope: All materials and labor for the demolition and removal of all kitchen finishes, and the installation of new, the result being a finished kitchen.” You are establishing the expectation that you will provide a finished kitchen, and that if the details don't add up to that, you will perform the work to complete the kitchen, as part of this scope. I aim for this type of summary.

or this:

“Summary scope: The execution of items 1-48, excluding nos 23 and 32, in the architect’s specifications dated March 23, 2014, describing a kitchen remodel.” You are responding to an RFP, in an architect-driven project. You are bidding competitively, and you are bidding the scope provided by the architect. You have some responsibilities in addition to the specs - your work must be done to code, and you should call out obvious errors and omissions with requests for information from the architect, but the architect is the authority as to the scope of work, prior to execution of the contract, and you quote quote only the work specified by the architect. Sometimes this type of scope is necessary.

Line items - As many as you need to satisfy the summary scope. Sometimes it's 3 or 4. Sometimes it's 100.

Some will be vague:
“Install plywood subfloor as needed, to replace rotten or decayed existing subfloor.” Unless you have a particular reason, don’t list the quantities or brands or dimensions or sizes of rough materials. You’re solving the problem, not selling plywood, and it is tough to be profitable if the owner fixes on numbers of sheets of plywood, or boxes of nails, or gallons of paint. One reason to list specific rough materials is that you are using superior materials, and you have explained your use of those materials to the customer, and your contract calls them out to reinforce your attention to quality as well as contrast it to any competitors' approaches.

Some will be more specific:
“Install 5/8” fire-resistant gypsum drywall in all exposed wall areas.” Yes, you’ve mentioned a dimension, but it’s part of explaining the advantage to the customer - it’s fire-resistant. Don’t use trade terms such as “type-X” unless you have a compelling reason.

Some will be specific by reference to something else:
“Install kitchen sink listed in the Schedule of Finishes and Allowances”. In a small project you might want to list the exact model in the scope; in a larger project I find it convenient to list all the finishes in a separate schedule.

or

“Excavate, fabricate steel reinforcement, install waterproofing measures, pour and finish concrete, for foundations as specified in plans…”

Some are bucket items:
“Install 3 1/2” paint-grade wood baseboard, 5” paint-grade wood crown, 3 1/2” paint-grade casings around doors and windows, oak floor transitions, to finish room.” It’s a little vague, but if you’ve done your homework correctly, these bucket items won’t be risky.

Include items that are otherwise not known to the owner but that are important to the cost of the job.

“Stand for all inspections; estimated 12 inspections, 2.5 hours each.”
“Dispose of all waste materials; clean site daily”
etc.

And so on, referring to other documents and sources as necessary. Tile work should refer to designs and sizes. Flooring items should refer to designs (changes of directions, framing, accent strips, etc.). You are trying to eliminate sources of misunderstandings.

Exclusions and exceptions:
“This contract does not include the purchase or delivery or installation of new appliances.” If you have a verbal agreement with a customer about something, get it in writing. The customer may remember only that you talked about delivering and installing the appliances, not that you discussed the appliance salesman’s offer of free delivery and installation (which for some reason never found its way into the purchase agreement with the customer).

“This scope does not include refinishing the existing drywall patches and flawed finishing work in the existing walls, where the new remodeling work does not disturb the existing drywall.” Look around and find the stuff that a customer would like to have included as a freebie. Take it out of the freebie bin.

Exclusions of certain other items:
“This scope of work does not include the repair of any structural rot in the framing around the windows and doors, that is found in the course of this project.” I dislike these, but sometimes someone (the designer or architect) has painted a particular picture, has told you that you will not get the job if you disturb that picture, and your ethical path is to mention the possibility of that additional scope, while keeping it and the costs associated with it, out of your proposal. The owner may ask you about it; you will explain it; the architect will explain why it's not an issue; you will point out that you have not included any of that work in the proposal. You have done your duty.

Unforeseen items and conditions - Subject for a different post.

Options: Include them, except on price-driven, architect-driven projects, where you must bid only the items spec’d by the architect.

Signature: Always include include separate full signature and date lines for the scope of work.

Questions:

Q: This is awfully detailed, a real PITA. Why should I do it?
A: If you’re relatively new at this, you need to have all this stuff written down anyway, in order to quote the job. If you’ve done this many times, you probably have existing contracts or accounting to help you do it. It gets to be very easy. You need this document to plan the project, don't you?

Q: I do T&M. Do I need to do this?
A: I work in California, where T&M is not legal for residential work. If you’re good enough, and you have strong enough relationships with your customers, maybe you don’t need to do it. Different subject.

Q: I prefer to work with just a handshake. What is wrong with that?
A: Nothing, if your name is Pinwheel, or Joasis, or you’re over 50 and have worked in the same community for many years, and if your state doesn’t require a clear written contract (California does). If that situation doesn’t apply to you, then you are taking a risk. A significant part of the bad customer situations that are discussed on C.T. have their roots in an unclear scope of work. “What does the contract say?” is one of the first comments in many of those threads. Those threads got me thinking about this.

Q: It’s too much for me to contemplate. How can I change that much?
A: Do it a step at a time. Your next job, include a nice clear summary scope. Start adding items with each contract.

Q: Does it work?
A: Yes. The scope of work is the reference document for planning and executing the job. It is useful on that basis alone, and it will also prevent misunderstandings. I have had customers remind me that I owed them something using the scope of work, and I have shown customers their signature right under the list of exclusions.

Q: Isn’t this exactly the detailed information that we’re always saying that we shouldn’t give customers? Won’t they just take my scope and give it to some lowballer to quote?
A: It’s a risk, but you can manage it. First, don’t give a customer this sort of detail until you’re at the contract stage, and you’ve qualified them several times, including asking them directly, in writing, if they will work at your price.It’s a rare liar who can get through that without triggering some red flags. If it’s a complex but vaguely-specified project, or if the customer wants you to figure it all out, including the finishes, then you should have gone through a couple of estimates, and you can offer them a paid design or professional services agreement, the result of which will be a set of designs, and a detailed quote that includes this scope of work.

I’m interested in feedback. I probably have some errors and omissions. I do this for every contract, big or small.
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Old 11-02-2014, 08:58 PM   #2
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Re: Scope Of Work


Very helpful Bob. I've made it through my first year of business without misunderstandings or conflicts mainly due to the fact that I learned the importance of a scope of work from guys on here. Thanks!

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Old 11-02-2014, 09:00 PM   #3
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Re: Scope Of Work


Bob , The way you have written out this scope of work , in such detailis this something you do in addition to a signed contract? I write out a pretty detailed contract, but nothing quite like what you have here.
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Old 11-02-2014, 09:14 PM   #4
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Re: Scope Of Work


It kills me that so many people do not write clear work scopes. Setting the expectations for both parties right at the beginning is key to ending the project happy.
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Old 11-02-2014, 09:27 PM   #5
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Re: Scope Of Work


If a contract is not detailed your doomed if questions start popping up. You need to know what your giving the customer and the customer needs to know what there getting. I like to do a summary scope saying what the project is but then in the contract give a very detailed specification list. Also including amounts for allowances being specific. It helps keeps things clear and concise.
The in laws are dealing with this right now having signed a contract that shouldn't be hardly considered an estimate summary.
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Old 11-02-2014, 09:41 PM   #6
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Re: Scope Of Work


Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Bush View Post
Bob , The way you have written out this scope of work , in such detailis this something you do in addition to a signed contract? I write out a pretty detailed contract, but nothing quite like what you have here.
The Scope of Work is a separate section in my contract. My contract has what you might call the boilerplate section, which refers to the other sections that contain all the meat of each job: Scope of Work, Payment Schedule, Allowance Schedule, Plans and Specifications, etc. It's some work to do it, but not that much after the first few, and all of them together, over a course of years, are much less work and expense and aggravation than a single legal squabble.

For a small project, it doesn't have to be big. It just has to be clear.
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Old 11-02-2014, 10:35 PM   #7
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Re: Scope Of Work


Another good one Bob! The scope is just as important and useful to detail what you will be doing as well as what you won't.

I always like to sit down and walk through the scope at contract signing. My contracts and scope could use some more details at times and it seems like they are always evolving.
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Old 11-02-2014, 10:59 PM   #8
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Re: Scope Of Work


There's times that the SOW is the largest part of my contract. In conjunction with the scope I have a "Selected Materials and Finishes" form that I use. This covers items that the HO has to pick and then sign off on like cabinets, fixtures, paint color, etc. The scope will refer to line items from the Selected Materials form - for example the scope will say"...paint living room walls with 2 coats of paint (SM&F #32). Line item number 32 on the form with then detail "Sherwin Williams, Cape Verde, SW 6482, Flat Finish".
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Old 11-02-2014, 11:02 PM   #9
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Re: Scope Of Work


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad McDade View Post
There's times that the SOW is the largest part of my contract. In conjunction with the scope I have a "Selected Materials and Finishes" form that I use. This covers items that the HO has to pick and then sign off on like cabinets, fixtures, paint color, etc. The scope will refer to line items from the Selected Materials form - for example the scope will say"...paint living room walls with 2 coats of paint (SM&F #32). Line item number 32 on the form with then detail "Sherwin Williams, Cape Verde, SW 6482, Flat Finish".
Very similar to what I do.
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Old 11-02-2014, 11:05 PM   #10
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Re: Scope Of Work


Thanks Bob, probably one of the most useful posts I've read in some time.
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Old 11-03-2014, 05:02 AM   #11
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Re: Scope Of Work


I do scope on all bid jobs. It's all there in black and white.

I hate it when I forget something though.
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Old 11-03-2014, 05:59 AM   #12
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Re: Scope Of Work


I think that this is a good start. Whenever I had to explain to someone how to write a detailed scope of work, I first told them to assume that I don't know ANYTHING about what they do. Secondly I told them to explain it to me as if I was 5 years old.

One guy suggested, "I don't need to be THAT detailed. I mean the HO would have to be a total idiot to not know what's involved in painting a bathroom." And even though it may seem that obvious, it isn't. You're the professional so it's your job to know. Not theirs.
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Old 11-03-2014, 06:42 AM   #13
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Re: Scope Of Work


I couldn't agree more with Bob. Detailed scope of work and materials being used in the contract is a must.

Here is a perfect example, just last week I spoke to someone while getting coffee, the guy just started conversation with me with "people are nuts in this town" so I said yeah I know, what happened... and he started to vent, saying he was doing a roof job and he said when he inspected the roof, he saw from the attic that at few areas plywood had to be changed, about 3-4 pieces... so he put in his contract "remove, dispose and install new plywood on the roof". He got the job, replaced damaged plywood and put a new roof on. The HO calls Home Inspector after the job is done to make sure it was done right... he inspects the roof and indicated that some of the roof sheeting was replaced, and that in some areas there is signs of water staining and should be investigated further.
Contractor said he saw the water marks and explained to the HO verbally, explaining that was from previous leakage or what ever it was and it was fixed and that plywood is in good shape.
HO don't wanna hear it and she is not paying him because she said that you said in your contract that you will "remove, dispose and install new plywood on the roof" meaning the plywood on entire roof.

Now he has big headaches, the HO wants all plywood removed and replaced so he is at her mercy trying to work this out... but we all know that he is screwed if she insists or takes this to court.

Like Bob said, it must be in specific detail describing scope of work, materials will be used and the area/s will be replaced in exact detail and its dimension/s... not excluding if you noticed something there, make a note on the contract that there is a sign of something, the HO been notified and is aware of it and that she requested for that to be left alone not to incur additional cost. (I started adding that to all my contracts if I notice anything)
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Old 11-03-2014, 09:13 AM   #14
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Re: Scope Of Work


Quote:
Originally Posted by greg24k View Post
...not excluding if you noticed something there, make a note on the contract that there is a sign of something, the HO been notified and is aware of it and that she requested for that to be left alone not to incur additional cost. (I started adding that to all my contracts if I notice anything)
That's a very good way to put it - I'll use that.
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Old 11-03-2014, 11:59 AM   #15
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Re: Scope Of Work


Good topic, Bob. ours could use more work, but we get by. Definitly subscribed to this thread.

We take scopes of work seriously. As they do take time to generate, we enter into a very informal PSA and charge a fee for the work prior to generating it.

Our contracts are comprised of several documents, the paragraph in the contract that addresses it is something like this:

The Contract documents consist of: this Agreement, Scope of Work dated 31 OCT 2014, Drawings, Specifications, Table of Allowances, Addenda issued prior to this agreement (insert actual document dates and names) other documents listed in this Agreement and Modifications issued after execution of this Agreement. The Contract represents the entire and integrated agreement between parties hereto and supersedes prior negotiations, representations or agreements, either written or otherwise.


The scope of work is detailed and broken down into each room. Either the model and brand of each fixture is in the scope, or an allowance is issued in the scope for each item, and we generate a table of allowances for the whole project so there is no confusion.
We use a coded sheet that has every item that can be associated with a residential new construction or remodel, and another for commercial. At least as complete as our knowledge. We use the coded sheet to list all of the items necessary to complete the scope of work. The code is also how it is tracked and billed.


The beginning of the scope is generic, basically same stuff entered every time, other than normally we buy a builders risk policy. Example:

COMPREHENSIVE ITEMS

#103—BLUE PRINTS/PLANS
- Contractor will generate detailed drawings of new bathrooms and carport enclosure. Owner will approve plans prior to construction.

#104—APPRAISALS/SURVEYS
- Owners will responsible for any and all costs associated with survey and appraisal requirements, if needed.
- Owner is responsible for providing accurate property line reference points. Contractor will locate the home based upon the owner provided property line reference points.

#108—BUILDING PERMITS
* Contractor will complete required permit application for obtaining necessary building permit.
o Owners are aware they will need to sign the application prior to submittal for approval
o Owner will furnish contractor with elevation certificate, property plat, septic survey and any other documents required for permitting.

#109A—LIABILITY INSURANCE
* General Liability Insurance is carried by ( company name ), and is included in the cost estimate.

#109B—WORKERS COMPENSATION INSURANCE
* The employees of ( company name ) are covered with Workers Compensation Insurance.

#109C—HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE
* Owner will verify that their homeowner's insurance policy will cover remodeling activities, and they will ensure that the policy covers a dollar amount equal to the present value of the existing home, plus the value of the work to be performed. These costs are in addition to the cost of work proposed in this document, and are the responsibility of the owner.
* Owner will furnish a copy of the home owner insurance policy to the contractor prior to construction.

#111—ENVIROMENTAL COMPLIANCE
- Contractor will maintain strict adherence to environmental compliance requirements.

#112—SITE SET-UP
* Install silt fence where necessary.
* Place trash dumpster on building site for efficient use and emptying.
* Contractor will be permitted to place company sign at front of property for purposes of site identification for subcontractors and suppliers.
#113—PORT-A-JOHN
- Contractor will provide portable toilet facility for duration of construction.

#114—DUMP CHARGES
- A construction trash receptacle will be provided for the duration of the project.
- Contractor will be responsible for all costs associated with trash removal/disposal.



Say it is a whole house remodel, we break each room down into the coded items associated with it.

Example, one bathroom on the remodel:

HALL BATHROOM

#122—DECONSTRUCTION
- Remove and discard all bathroom fixtures, wall coverings, tile, etc… to facilitate new owner approved bathroom plan.
o Salvage fixtures for owner, if requested.
- Remove portions of foundation, as necessary to facilitate new plumbing fixture locations.

#124—FRAMING
- Frame new 2x4 walls per owner approved plans.
- Utilize floor space from adjoining bathroom closet, as approved by owner.

#130—PLUMBING
- Install new plumbing supply and drain lines by licensed plumber to accommodate new plumbing fixture locations.
- Vent fixtures as needed

#131—PLUMBING FIXTURES
- Allowance for the purchase of the following plumbing fixtures is $( amount of allowance). The allowance total includes purchase, supplies, taxes, freight, etc.
- Hall Bath
o 2 vanity sinks
o 2 vanity faucets
o 1 shower valve, valve trim, and shower head
o 1 toilet

#132—ELECTRICAL
- Install adequate circuitry, switches and outlets for the proper operation of electrical system and fixtures located in the new hall bath area, per owner approved plan.

#133—ELECTRICAL FIXTURES
- Total allowance included in cost estimate includes purchase, supplies, taxes, freight, etc. for the following fixtures $(amount of allowance).
o 1 vanity light
- Contractor will provide the following fixtures. The cost for these fixtures is included in the cost proposal and is not part of the allowance for this section.
o One 6” recessed can light for the bathroom ceiling.
o One Broan LP80 exhaust vent fan
o One sealed shower light

#137—WINDOW
- Purchase and install new Marvin casement window.
o Owner will approve color of exterior clad prior to ordering. Interior to be wood, painted to match the interior trim.
o Window will be installed in the location of the existing window. If owner desires window in a different location, the additional cost will be discussed and approved prior to relocation.

#142—CABINETS
- Fabricate and install new cabinets per owner approved drawings.
- All cabinets will be built using face frame construction with partial overlay doors and drawers.
- All cabinets to have concealed adjustable cup hinges, full extension drawer guides, and adjustable shelving.
o Total allowance in cost estimate includes purchase, supplies, taxes, freight, installation, etc. for the cabinetry is $( amount of allowance).

#143—CABINET HARDWARE
- Purchase and install cabinet hardware, for vanity cabinet.
- Allowance of $(amount of allowance) is included in the bid for purchase of any cabinet door and drawer pulls: This includes purchase, supplies, taxes, freight, etc.

#144—INTERIOR TRIM MATERIALS & DOORS
- Paint grade trim, with standard profiles, shall be installed in the following locations:
o Single step base boards
o Crown molding, if desired
o Window and door trim
- Relocate the existing door, if required by owner approved plan.
- Owner to approve trim profiles prior to ordering or fabricating.
o Total allowance included in cost estimate includes purchase, supplies, taxes, freight, etc. for trim materials is $(amount of allowance).

#146—TILE
- Install owner approved tile on bathroom floor, shower surround and hall access area.
o Total allowance in cost estimate includes purchase, supplies, taxes, freight, installation, etc. for all tile $ (amount of allowance).

#147—HVAC
- Relocate existing HVAC supply duct to appropriate location.

#162—INTERIOR TRIM LABOR
- Windows
o Install paint grade jamb extensions where necessary.
o Install paint grade, 4 piece, mitered trim frame.
- Doors
o Install doors plumb and level, with adequate shims and blocking, where necessary.
o Install paint grade jamb extensions where necessary.
o Install paint grade, 3 piece mitered trim frame to each side of door.
- Base boards
o Install one step, paint grade baseboard at all applicable locations.
- Crown Molding
o Install 4 ¼” paint grade, one step crown molding if desired.



#165—BATH ACCESSORIES
- Allowance of $( amount of allowance)for purchase of all bath accessories (towel bars/rings, toilet paper holders, robe hooks, etc.) This includes purchase, supplies, taxes, freight, etc.
- Confirm locations with owner.

#167—COUNTERTOPS
- Allowance of $( amount of allowance) to purchase and install solid surface countertops is included in the bid.
o Includes installation of under mount sinks.
o Includes standard profile edges.

#168—BACK SPLASH
- Install owner approved tile on countertop backsplash area.
o Total allowance in cost estimate includes purchase, supplies, taxes, freight, installation, etc. for tile backsplash is $(amount of allowance).

#173—GLASS/MIRROR/SHOWER DOORS
- Allowance of $(amount of allowance) is included in the bid for purchase and installation of all glass, mirrors and shower doors.

Interior Paint and Drywall and one or two other things isn't listed there because it would be listed in the beginning of the scope, encompassing the whole house. Also, the format on this scope is screwed up, its just a template.

Obviously the template there, the client had made no selections other than our advice on the window. Which we try not to do, it is better if they pick everything prior to the bid. But if not, we use ample allowances, judging by the class of remodel or new construction taking place, the way we read the client, their existing home, ect....
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Old 11-03-2014, 02:21 PM   #16
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Re: Scope Of Work


John, that's outstanding. What do you use for codes? Have you made up your own, or used CSI or others?
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Old 11-03-2014, 03:45 PM   #17
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Re: Scope Of Work


when you have a homeowner that only see's 1 side of an issue there's always going to be issues that come up.....homeowners rarely see 2 sides of a story or grey area's....no matter how many things you put in your contract there is always something eventually that will happen that the homeowners sees differently than you do.....

human nature is to justify anything the person wants to justify.....there is no way to win even if its covered in your long list...maybe they wont win legally, but they can still refuse to pay or bad mouth you all over the internet if they dont get their way....the best way of fixing this is through qualifying a customer and learning to stay away from certain personality types.....
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Old 11-03-2014, 06:10 PM   #18
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Re: Scope Of Work


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when you have a homeowner that only see's 1 side of an issue there's always going to be issues that come up.....homeowners rarely see 2 sides of a story or grey area's....no matter how many things you put in your contract there is always something eventually that will happen that the homeowners sees differently than you do.....

human nature is to justify anything the person wants to justify.....there is no way to win even if its covered in your long list...maybe they wont win legally, but they can still refuse to pay or bad mouth you all over the internet if they dont get their way....the best way of fixing this is through qualifying a customer and learning to stay away from certain personality types.....
Exactly. You can't win with some people but good qualifying skills coupled with a good scope is setting yourself up for success big time. The scope is definitely not a way to get around good customer qualifying. Many people aren't worth working for.
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Old 11-03-2014, 06:14 PM   #19
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Re: Scope Of Work


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John, that's outstanding. What do you use for codes? Have you made up your own, or used CSI or others?
CSI?

My mom made the codes when my dad was building new customs in the 90s, coding a list he used to bid with. She probably learned it from reading something, she has been doing construction books for almost 25 years.

I added some things to the list 5 years ago, she changed up the sheet and coded them in. I also did a commercial sheet (my dad doesnt dig commercial, a lot of my back ground is in commercial), she coded it as well. My brother will probably add to the list as well, but it is fairly comprehensive at this point. We can go down the list and schedule a custom project off of it, adding in for material and fixture releases, inspections, selections, time to call ahead to schedule the appropriate sub. At that point the job is menu driven as far as everything but trade knowledge and hiccups.

I use the sheet to bid jobs, set up my CP schedules, and to code labor for in house guys to what they were doing.
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Old 11-03-2014, 06:21 PM   #20
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Re: Scope Of Work


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CSI?
....
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MasterF...8April_2014.29

As far as I understand, widely used for commercial work. Ended up being too cumbersome for me.

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