field guide

8 Steps to Creating an Effective 'Scope-of-Work'

As a property owner or manager, you want to make sure when getting work done on your asphalt pavement that you get done what’s needed and what you’re paying for. This guide outlines the steps we see our most successful customers use.

Cover art for Field Guide: 8 Steps for Creating an Effective Scope of Work for Pavement Projects
Peter Kramer
Peter Kramer

Does getting quotes leave you scratching your head?

Have you ever collected quotes and compared pricing only to be left wondering how to navigate selecting the best choice from different solutions, with different pricing?

You're not alone.

With asphalt and concrete projects, we often help people better understand how to approach the scoping process, resulting in more consistent, better aligned solutions.

This short field guide is designed to empower decision makers in an effort to identify, request and secure the best-fit solution to their paving problems.



As a property owner or manager, you want to make sure when getting work done on your asphalt pavement that you are making the best quality and budgetary decisions.

You also want work to go as smoothly as possible, with little disruption to tenants and few surprises – and you want to define a mechanism so you (and the contractor) can make changes when needed. 

A big ask? Not at all. 

But the first step in making all that happen is the most important one: Developing a “scope of work” that encompasses all your expectations and delineates everything that will be provided to you as the client. 

A scope of work defines and details exactly what’s going to be done, how it’s going to be done, and how the project will progress. It can include details on materials, communication, deadlines and subcontractors.

Developing a scope of work for each parking lot on which you’re getting work done takes some time and effort, but a sound scope of work guarantees that you – and contractors – understand exactly what’s expected and enables comparing “apples to apples” in the bid process – otherwise you’ll end up comparing apples to oranges to artichokes, making it very difficult for you to decide which contract and contractor to select for the job. 

To avoid that problem, develop your own scope of work in which you tell contractors not only what work they’ll be doing but how they will be doing it and how the entire job will be run. Following these 8 tips will make it easier to select the best contractor for the job and will give you greater confidence knowing that you’re getting the correct work done on your pavement.

Develop your own scope of work in which you specify to contractors what work they’ll be doing and how they will be doing it.


Start with an Expert

Few property managers are experts in the field of asphalt pavement so they need assistance and guidance when developing a scope of work. 

Do I need a paving consultant?

Some managers hire pavement consultants to develop a scope of work, but it makes more sense (and is less costly) to invite a reliable local contractor to begin the process. 

This can be someone you’ve used before or not, but when inviting this first contractor make sure to examine their reputation, ask for referrals, check to make sure they’re licensed and insured, and ask for previous success stories (if you haven’t worked with them before).

Find a contractor that has experience working with your business type or industry.
Base asphalt being laid by professional paving crew in Kentucky

Get a pavement evaluation

A pavement evaluation is essential prior to developing a scope of work, so walk the pavement with the contractor as they conduct their evaluation. 

It’s based on this evaluation that the contractor will develop the scope of work, so it’s important to accompany them in the field so they can explain and point out what will later be covered in the scope of work. APM Paving offers a free “Built to Last” pavement evaluation as part of our services.

Church Parking Lot Sealcoat and Striping
What should an evaluation include?
Area by area specific rating
Surface condition issues
Stormwater management issues
Concrete condition
ADA guideline adherence
Traffic flow

Begin with a summary of the project

This can include a general description of the job and goals to be met before the job is considered finished. It will give bidding contractors a brief explanation of the job under bid. 


Our parking lot includes 2 sections that need to be refurbished and are not handling the load of weekly service vehicles. One area will impact an entry point and includes a catch basin.

For example, it shouldn’t be enough for the scope to include “remove and replace four damaged areas.”
Base asphalt being compacted with roller at industrial facility in Kentucky

Specify details and define any technical terms

Often this is referred to as “project deliverables” and should cover what the contractor will be doing as well as what any subcontractors will be doing if needed. 

Specify details on the work to be done and define any technical terms. Often this is referred to as “project deliverables” and should cover what the contractor will be doing. 

How much detail is really needed?

The location and size of each area should be defined and marked on a map. Depth of replacement, thickness of base stone, thickness of asphalt surface, and any specific materials you want used should also be included. This is also an opportunity to clarify technical terms. For example, “crack repair,” “crack sealing” and “crack filling” might mean completely different things to different contractors.

Reflective cracking in asphalt parking lot caused by sub-surface issues.
Commonly Confused Paving Terms:
Asphalt depth vs. Compacted depth
Primer coat / tack coat
Hot mix vs. cold mix asphalt
Asphalt Concrete
Reflective Cracking
Slurry seal / sealcoat

Take your budget into account

Your needs should be clearly documented with your evaluation. This step makes sure that the proposed solution(s) not only fits the need, but also fits the budget available for the work. 

It’s time for clear communication.

The scope should take your budget into account. If you only have $5,000 available for a project it doesn’t make sense to develop and let for bid a scope of work that will cost you $20,000. However, in the initial evaluation phase (see #2 above) do not limit the contractor by your budget. That might sound contradictory, but you don’t want them to hold back on what you really need just to fit your budget. 

The initial evaluation should be complete and thorough. Then, through communication with the contractor, and based on their recommendations, you can determine what needed work fits your budget – and then develop the scope of work (and possible a longer-term “Built to Last” pavement management plan) from there.

common issue:
Hesitant to discuss your project budget?
You’re not alone.

However, if your needs are clear, then you can get a transparent, competitive price from multiple vendors.

If you’ve done your homework, don’t be afraid of sharing your budget.

Develop a schedule for the project

Develop a schedule for the project and (assuming the project is large enough) a timeline for various phases within the project. 

You probably won’t be able to declare a start date but you can provide a window. And that window, as well as internal timelines, might change depending on a number of factors including weather, availability of materials, and conflicting jobs. But once a job is begun you should have a rough idea of how long each phase will take and when the project will be completed.


Include traffic control

Working on a parking lot usually involves paving crews working while stores or offices are open and while condominium or apartment tenants are coming and going. Traffic control plans need to be developed to work in that environment.

Common Considerations for Successful Traffic Control on Asphalt Service:

  • Advanced Notice of Closure
  • Alternative routing signage
  • Single direction routing
  • Waste management schedule
  • Entrance & exit changes
  • Service vehicle re-scheduling
  • Manned traffic management
  • ADA accessibility requirements
  • Weather contingency

Outline lines of communication

Who from the contractor will communicate with you? Who will communicate with tenants, and how will that communication take place?

Key Points for Clear Paving Project Communication:

  • Scoping & Decision making
  • Pre-construction meeting
  • Project day 1
  • Check-ins (if multi-day or multiple phases required)
  • Walk-through upon completion


Creating a thorough scope of work will take some time for each property but will enable you to control the job from the start. By creating it yourself (with the help of your reliable contractor), you’ll be defining the job and assuring you will receive “apples to apples” bids – making bid comparisons and selection of a contractor much easier. 

Spraying parking lot striping for ADA requirements
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