The Scope of Work…

NOTE: I may over explaining some things in this blog post. However,even an experienced consumer may learn a thing or two. The goal is to share knowledge, and help YOU find the right remodeler, AND AVOID a remodmare

A good remodeler will provide you with  a scope of work. I provide a scope of work AFTER acceptance of the estimate. It is what the contract is based upon.

This post will take you thru the things you should ask for, look for, or receive from your remodeler.

Once there is a price that the parties both agree upon, the remodeler can derive a realistic scope of work. The scope of work is what will or will not be included in your contracted price. It should be very detailed, to save both parties a lot of heartache later.

  1. It will break down the various trades and possible Subcontracting amounts.
  2. It should include the amount you can spend on Material Allowance Items.
  3. The cost of goods and services supplied by the remodeler (labor and materials.)

I will discuss these three sections in this post.

Subcontractors: (or SUBS)

Subcontractors are trades people that specialize in very specific trades. Plumbers, HVAC (heating and cooling), electrical contractors in our area have to have specific licenses for their trade. Drywall, flooring, trim, painting, and other trades may also be involved. In our area they may be required to obtain a maintenance and alteration builders license.

In any case, the subcontractors will have to carry liability insurance and, if needed, worker’s compensation. You should be able to request a copy of all their documentation. They usually contract with remodeler and the remodeler will (usually) charge a percentage that can be equated to a finder’s fee (Mark-up. A mark up is a percentage above and beyond the cost of the goods and services provided.)

You can ask your remodeler to provide you with the line item costs for all subcontractors. I am more than happy to provide this kind of a scope after the contract is signed. I do not like to provide this before we are in business together, to avoid being shopped.


It is easy to have another guy come in and say, they can do it for $10.00 per line item, effectively stealing all my time and effort into putting together a comprehensive price. It happened ALL the time before I decided this approach was costing me.

Your remodeler can usually give you a better price on a subcontractor than you can get.

When you sub-contract as a home owner, the sub will (may) have to account for the marketing cost that they incurred getting in to your door. When you contract a sub contractor directly they have very little confidence you will provide them with more leads. Or future work. 

And all business is about leads and closing sales.

HINT: Some people believe that acting as a general contractor saves them money. I have never had good experiences with this type of job, or person. They usually have just enough knowledge to be difficult and unrealistic about what the job is. It usually ends poorly and is a Remodmare.  

When I hear the phrase, “I am going to general this job, or I am a builder, too…” I walk away.  It is like me coming into your place of employment and trying to do your job.

What  a good remodeler does is manage the job from a position of experience,  and expertise. They have worked with their subs before and will help YOU. In the event that a sub contractor under-performs, your remodeler will usually have more pull in rectifying the situation than a one and done *general contractor*

Some remodelers will do all the trades except for the licensed trades. I will do some or all of the non-licensed trades as the projects dictate. I decide that on an individual job basis. I am also competent at performing a select few items in each of the skilled trades.

Material Allowance:

The material allowance consists of specific items that need to be picked and purchased according to your design and taste. I tailor this to what I heard from you in the face to face estimate/measuring/sales meeting. We will discuss this to insure I get a good handle on the good/better/best/stupidly way too expensive price structure for this section.

Lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures, flooring, paint, and cabinets are all items that would be included in the material allowance. I will base this on the range, wherein, most people fall in the better to best range, as discussed during the sales meeting.

This is the place where you can control the cost of your remodel more than any other line item. If everything you pick is gold plated and diamond encrusted, you will pay for it. I will give you a good idea of what your various parts and pieces will cost.

Some of the trades will provide the material and fixtures. Sometimes they will just provide labor to install your materials. However, there is not a subcontractor that I know that will extend a warranty on a product they do not provide. And while you can save a little bit of cash on your material allowance buy buying it from a big box store, the only warranty you will get is on the product from the manufacturer. If it needs to be replaced, you will have to pay for labor to have it replaced.

And that is often glossed over by the remodeler.

Labor and Materials:

Labor and materials is the other section is the labor and material section for the work that will not be completed by subcontractors. While it may seem self explanatory, the labor amount is for all functions from project management to cleanup that are not included in the subcontractor functions. It is not an exact science, but an experienced remodeler has systems and formulas in place to figure this out.

I know how much every hour a guy is on a job costs me.

Most materials on a job are a commodity. The price fluctuates from day to day and week to week. No estimate should ever be good for longer than thirty days. When I figure studs, trim and general materials, I round up for scrap and waste. I do not credit for overstock, but also do not charge for understock either.

Hence, the rest of this figure is about the material not covered by sub contractors and the material allowance. This will include nails, screws, caulks, glues, screws, and miscellaneous mobilization and demobilization materials. (miscellaneous materials such as plastics, papers, tape, and  carpet guard.) This is figured with all applicable taxes and mark-up.

Most of these items are purchased in bulk, stored, and rotated from stock to keep this cost as low as possible. I will never provide a breakdown or line item list of these. I also do not provide a  break down of the exact numbers, square feet, and linear feet of products used, unless it is agreed that you pick-up, deliver, and return these items. Then I will give you a list. But that is very rare. If you want me to spend the extra time on chasing this tail, I will probably not be the remodeler you would choose.

My time is my money.

Also included in the labor and materials section I add in the cost of the permit, any plans/drawings needed, and the dumpster/ dump fee as needed. These costs are directly related to the size of the job!

There are no real shortcuts to getting a job done well by a reputable remodeler.

Posted in planning budgeting dreaming
3 comments on “The Scope of Work…
  1. Mynx says:

    You guys do it differently to most of the renovation stuff we have had done.
    I am pretty sure that I have never had such a detailed breakdown on how my money is being spent but it certainly seems like a good idea

    • Not all guys think it thru like I do, but it does not mean they are wrong…It is all part of my *proven system*…It does make it really easy to justify the changes. Not all remodelers are good at the details, but they may still be very skilled in your home.

      I operate on the philosophy that a good understanding means no bad ending. I have learned that it is easier to collect balance owed when there is a clear understanding of what is and is not being done…

      If you have a guy that you trust it is a different story as well.

  2. Great post, Bruce.
    I enjoyed reading how you work with respect to “getting the paperwork” sorted.
    My brother and you would get along famously – he’s a details man and in his many years of building homes from scratch and doing make-overs he too likes the details to be clear and fully understandable to the customer…he also walks away from jobs where the owner wants to be “in charge” of the job; it’s a guaranteed disaster.
    Good luck with your site and with work – if you lived closer we’d be talking…I’m in reno mode as we speak! Jenny

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Just Another Day In Paradise!
February 2013
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