Last edited 09 Sep 2020

Scope of services

The term ‘appointment’ generally describes the process in which the client contracts designers or other consultants to perform expert tasks on a project. With all forms of appointment it is important that there is clarity about the scope of services being provided, particularly where a range of consultants is being appointed. There might otherwise be uncertainty about which consultant is responsible for which aspects of the project, what fee is chargeable, what services are within the agreed fee and what services might be considered ‘extras’.

For this reason, appointment agreements often include, or refer to a ‘scope of services’ or ‘schedule of services’. A scope of services sets out precisely what services a consultant will be performing on a project. Scopes of services may also be prepared for contractors where they are carrying out design work, or for consultants appointed by contractors on design and build projects.

A scope of services may be a bespoke document, drafted for a particular project, or may be prepared based on standard pro-forma documents available from organisations such as the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the Construction Industry Council and the Association for Consultancy and Engineering.

A scope of services may:

  • List the fullest range of services that may be provided, and then items are struck through if they are not being provided within the fee.
  • Offer a tick box system to indicate whether services are being provided or not.
  • Include a list specifically setting out services that will not be provided.
  • Provide options, such as; to ‘carry out’ services or to ‘organise’ them; to provide cost consultancy services or not and so on.
  • Indicate the basis on which the services will be charged, for example, ‘T’ indicating time-based, or ‘LS’ indicating a lump sum fee.

If a design responsibility matrix is being prepared, then this should be aligned with the scope of services for the consultants involved in the project. There are a number of software systems available that can automate this process.

Areas where it is particularly important to be certain who is providing services include:

Tasks that might be considered 'additional services' not covered by a consultant's standard fee unless specifically agreed might include:

Once the scope of services has been agreed by the parties, and either included in, or appended to the appointment agreement, or referred to in it, then any subsequent changes will need the consent of both parties.

NB The RIBA Plan of Work 2013 defines a schedule of services as: 'A list of specific services and tasks to be undertaken by a party involved in the project which is incorporated into their professional services contract.'

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