A Schedule of Works is a contractual document used to capture a description of a building project, essentially a list of tasks needed to be completed to finish the project.
It is generally used in combination with drawn information and any supporting documents to help record and price building work. There is no standard format, but it is often a line-by-line list of tasks and expenditures for a tendering builder to then fill out their price for each. It is useful in comparing builders costs in a like-for-like basis and monitoring cost changes once construction starts. It becomes part of the contract documents when appointing a builder.
During works on site the priced amount for each task is listed out in advance, so should changes need to be made it is a simple process to pin down which costs are to be altered.
It is a big job to create such a document of sufficient detail to be useful, so on small-medium scale work it is often omitted, and if it is sent out with tenders, busy small builders don’t often fill it in anyway, but submit a different pricing list to their own format. This can be frustrating, but a tenderer looking most favourable, can be then asked to fill it out, or provide a similar level of detail broken down in their preferred manner. Without a task-by-task (or even room-by-room) breakdown controlling costs and understanding how savings or decisions can be made is nearly impossible. You rely on the honesty and organisation of the contractor, which varies enormously. Those seeking on-site Contract Administration or oversight by a professional (architect, QS or similar) need such a breakdown to proceed as without knowing individual costs of the tasks, certification becomes too much guesswork to be honest and independent.
Architects, technicians and quantity surveyors can create such a document, but it needs to be carefully considered to not omit any tasks, as a poorly drafted one can be more dangerous than not having one. Sole trader architects such as TSA have to concentrate their skills (detailing, designing, drawing) and become more specialists in their field than big multi-disciplinary firms who can draw upon different staff members for such things, so do not often create Schedule of Works. On larger or more complex projects a schedule can be completed by a quantity surveyor.