Using a Scope of Work – Especially a Detailed One – Can Prevent Misinterpretation and Save You Big Money

No matter what size project we undertake, we always put together a scope of work. This can be as simple as writing specifications on a legal pad or a multiple-page document kept in a binder. At our company, Citygate Homes, we do a very comprehensive scope—especially when doing a flip.

We start in the living room and work our way through the entire house, room by room. Once outside, we work our way around the house and grounds, from the roof down to the flower beds. Everything is included—from Sheetrock work, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, kitchen layout, even down to the paint palette and switch plate colors.

Corinne manages the design and finishes of the house as well as managing the contractors. She starts at the front door and, once inside, works from ceiling to the floors. Ceiling color, wall color, semi gloss or flat, trim color, wall repair, light fixtures, electrical outlets and switches, window replacement, door replacement, flooring … well, you get it. Any drawings or plans are included as well, so you can imagine how detailed the kitchen pages can be.

Once it’s all completed, Corinne heads back to the office and compiles it room by room into the main scope of work. She also has separate overview pages listing each contractor’s responsibility so they can see where they are involved and the materials they need. The final contract, payment schedule, required insurance documents and change order procedure are enclosed as well.

When we have closed on the property and are ready to go, she will call several contractors for each of the fields needed, give them the lockbox code and have them walk through the house. They keep their scope and quote off that. Everybody is working off  the same thing—John calls it “sheet music” because everybody’s singing the same song!

It really gives us credibility with the subcontractors. They know we’re not going to be wasting their time down the road trying to figure everything out, and they pass the savings on to us. When you add up all of the trades involved, that can be a substantial savings.

It also prevents things like wrong paint colors, floor coverings, design elements and anything else that could be left open to interpretation. If any questions pop up, they have a job board up in the house that has the entire “scope” on it for reference. There will always be changes made, but Corinne and her contractors always refer back to the original specifications and go from there.

Any additions are followed up with a change order signed by us and the contractor. It’s seems like a lot of up-front work, but in the end, the time, money and frustration saved makes it all worthwhile.

Categories | Article | Operations
  • John and Corinne Tesh

    John and Corinne Tesh are real estate investors and owners of Citygate Homes, LLC, a HomeVestors franchise in Greensboro, N.C. John’s background as a professional photographer and Corinne’s expertise in interior design play a big part in the success of their business, which includes not just rehabs but also buy-and-holds and wholesale properties. Contact them at or or 336-854-8000.

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