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Construction contract details: Scope of services

It is very important to understand all of the necessary elements of a construction contract when drawing one up or signing it. This typically starts with names, dates, projected costs, a timeframe and other such details. All parties need to know what is expected and what it is going to cost.

One factor that people sometimes overlook, though, is the scope of the services being provided. To put it simply: The scope of services defines exactly what the customer is buying from the contractor.

The basics may appear clear. If you're hiring someone to build a new storefront, that's the overall goal of the project. However, the contract should also touch on the specifics. For instance:

  • Will the contractor do all types of work, such as electrical work and plumbing?
  • Will subcontractors be used?
  • Is the contractor expected to meet industry codes?
  • What types of materials should be used?
  • What plans does the contractor need to follow during the job?
  • What materials will the contractor select and what ones will the customer select?

The goal of outlining things like this is just to avoid confusion. For instance, a company may hire a contractor to build a garage after getting a low quote. When they inspect the completed project, it does not have any lights or power for the doors. The company says they assumed that was part of the quote. The contractor says they hired him to build the structure, and they'll need to hire an electrician to run the power. Now what?

Having a comprehensive contract can help avoid these types of issues. Everyone involved in the process needs to fully understand what legal steps to take and what the contract includes. Never make assumptions, no matter how obvious it seems.

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