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procurement guide - schedules of work


A Schedule of Works document lists all of the main sections and heads of work to be undertaken by the contractor.

A lump sum tender price based upon the priced Schedule of Works and associated documents are normally tendered in competition by a pre-selected list of between three and six contractors.

The Schedule of Works must be read in conjunction with the specification and the drawings and is required to be priced by the tenderer on a lump sum basis. Normally if given, quantities of work are for guidance only and the contractor is required to make his own measurements in order to prepare his tender bid.

Often in addition to the Schedule of Works, the contractor is requested to price a ‘unitary’ schedule of rates relating to the principal items of material, etc to be carried out. This can assist in the valuation of variations that may be later instructed.

Provisional sum items in the Schedule of Works can be included where these can be defined. Additionally and as with Bills of Quantity, Provisional allowances for undefined and defined works can be included and if required. Also allowances for works to be carried out by ‘named’ specialist sub-contractors can be included and if required can then be tendered separately – although this is relatively uncommon today and it is more likely that such work will be part of the main contractor’s tender by means of his selection from list of ‘preferred sub-contractors’ to be employed as ‘Domestic sub-contractors’.

However, it is important to note that because a Schedule of Works does not refer to a set of Measurement Rules, the documents must set out the basis (or rules) upon which Provisional Sums are included. Additionally and similarly definitions for General Attendances and Special Attendances to be included in connection with specialist sub-contractors must also be defined in the tender/contract documents.

This method of procurement became popular after the introduction of the JCT Intermediate Form of Contract in 1984. It continues to be popular today.


  • The lump sum price is firm, subject only to variations which may be instructed during the course of the contract works.
  • Client risk tends to be avoided because the contractor prepares his own measurements and quantities.
  • Can incorporate Design and Build and Performance Specified works if required.


  • The design must be reasonably well advanced (like Bills of Quantity) in order that tender documentation can be prepared
  • When variations occur, the valuation of changes can be more difficult to agree with the contractor than if firm Bills of Quantities exist, because individual prices for items of work do not exist unless a ‘unitary’ schedule of rates has been requested as part of the Tender.
  • Tenders are not as easily comparable to each other as is possible with Bills of Quantity, because the tendering contractors may interpret and price risk in the Schedule of Works document in different ways.


Appropriate for use on small to medium sized projects Tenderers need to carry out their own measurements and produce their own quantities.

The use of Schedules of Works is not particularly appropriate where change can be foreseen post-contract.

Next > Specification & Drawings