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March 14, 2019

Restoration ready: The importance of detailed scopes

6 minute read

I started in this industry as an independent adjuster. I worked for an old-school adjuster who, and I quote: “Will fire you immediately if you leave it to the contractor to write your scope of work. If you don’t go to site and write your own scope of work, you won’t work for me!” 

I learned a lot from him in a short period of time. He probably doesn't realize it, but he set a high standard of what an adjuster was supposed to do to make a claim go smoothly, and to settle with a lower payout and close the file quickly. It was clear that the adjuster’s job was to find the coverage, not to the find the exclusions. The role was to observe the damages and decide what caused it. Adjusters also determine who is responsible for paying for the damages and adjust the claim. I am very fortunate to have learned a lot of the old values of adjusting so that I can apply them to work flows in the field today.

To be honest, I wasn’t a good adjuster. My heart wasn’t in it. But I did pay attention and can apply those experiences and lessons to how I look at claims and the standard of care required to execute a loss as a contractor today.

Currently in the claims world, it's rare for both the contractor and adjuster to write the scope. It is also becoming rare to have a control scope and the contractor’s scope on smaller claims. The industry rarely goes to the site together to talk about the scope of work. Only 'old-schoolers' still go to the site and develop the agreed scope of work.  Today, the conversation is “we/they don’t pay for this” and “that item is not in the Service Level Agreement.” Estimate scrubbing and peer review is not the same as defining the scope of work. 

Why Detail a Scope?  

This industry relies on reliable and repeatable processes, and knowing consistent information to be able to make informed decisions. This is true in underwriting and in claims. Being able to talk to the scope of work empowers all parties involved. Everyone understands what work is on site and what work needs to be completed to successfully remediate a job. It creates certainty in the process for an adjuster and for a contractor. For someone to be confident about their role and duties, they must be able to talk about the actual work that needs to be completed to rebuild the job. The basis of claims handling is that all parties know what is and is not covered, who is and is not paying for certain items of work, with the end of result being that budgets and reserves can be substantiated and allocated.

Detailed scopes are important to both adjusters and contractors to build consistency, trust, and transparency.  

Three Ways to Deliver The Scope

I have had the opportunity to work with some of the industry’s top estimators and scope writers. What I learned is that the most efficient scope writers follow a consistent, repeatable process and a standard methodology of estimating. Regardless, whether you are in Australia, Canada, the UK or the USA, the best estimators and project managers consistently apply these three scoping practices: order of operations, top-down, and outside-in. Combining these methods will result in a highly detailed, accurate scope of work.  



This method is modelled by working through the process or steps that will be taken during the job. This allows you to account for processes you need to execute in the field that might otherwise be overlooked. An example of this is that you might need site protection for drywall, but due to the fact the home owner is living in the home, you have to break-down and remove your site protection on Friday, and reset new protection on Monday for painting. This breakdown and setup might be missed if you are not following through an orders of operation method. Each job will have variances in the order of operations.

The benefit of this method is that you will work your scope through a logical set of steps to ensure you identify all the challenges, costs and potential delays resulting from the tasks required on the job. 


Top-down scoping should not to be confused with the top-down estimating process. Top-down scoping is where you work from the ceiling/roof down to the floor. The benefit of this method is that you are able to find areas that are natural stopping points and start to estimate the same way you read, top-down.

There is a definite stopping point of where the work will end. Usually it is where the ceiling meets the wall or where the wall meets the floor.

An example of this method is repairing a two-foot flood cut. Your stopping point for repairing the drywall will be the ceiling. Replace drywall, paint to the ceiling. When you follow this method, you will think about site protection for the ceiling and masking the transition.


With outside-in scoping, you will find natural stop points based on how far into a structure you are scoping. This method allows the contractor to find structural items that create defined stop points. Natural stop points in the restoration world include the sheathing to the siding, vapor barrier, or the sub-floor.  

An example would be that you have that same two-foot flood cut, and the vapor barrier and insulation have been removed. Your scope would start on the outside. Replace insulation (northern climates), replace insulation, replace drywall, paint etc.


For the most detailed scopes, combine these processes. Start with top-down scoping, then outside-in scoping and then apply the order of operations to the scope to capture the most detail in a logical and factual manner that allows you and your team to dramatically increase the accuracy of the scope.

In this business - details matter. Scope accuracy builds trust with the insured, the property manager and the adjuster. It also reduces the amount of conflicts that will occur on a job. Regardless of the system of estimating you use, accurate scopes always apply. Rate & Materials (Time & Materials), Unit pricing, Square foot pricing or any other version of estimating, all require that the expectations be defined. When the scope changes - costs or credits should be expected.

Never Miss a Line Item Again


Create accurate, consistent scopes in minutes on your mobile device with Encircle's Rebuild Scoping tool! Designed to help restoration contractors capture all the line items associated with a job, our Rebuild Scoping tool guides you through creating the scope. Learn more by requesting a demo today! 




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