What is a schedule of values (SOV)?
A schedule of values in construction (SOV) is a breakdown of every billable task on a project providing an overview of the budget, a detailed timeline, and percentage of work completed for the entire job. In other words, it’s an itemized list of the entire budget of the project broken down by individual tasks and the costs associated for each of those tasks. The primary purpose of a schedule of values is to function as a start-to-finish document that outlines everything the project will entail. A well thought out schedule of values will serve as the backbone of a contractor’s billing process and becomes an invaluable management tool for any type of contractor. After all, it’s been said that a contractor does not get paid for the work they complete, they only get paid for the work they document.
The most important factor contributing to a successful project that is completed on time and within budget is starting from a plan that is efficient, realistic, and honest with its schedule and timelines. A schedule of values is a powerful document for ensuring that a solid plan of action is in place. As stated by the American Institute of Architects, “A schedule of values is used as a basis for reviewing the Contractor’s monthly payment applications. It shows the percentage of completion for each of the Contractor’s activities… and allocates the entire contract sum to various portions of the contractor’s work that are detailed in the construction schedule.” SOVs are commonplace for projects with approved budgets, fixed prices and contracts featuring cost-plus guaranteed maximum price.
Why a schedule of values is important
An estimated 70% of construction professionals blame inadequate job site coordination for most delays and cost overruns. Even more surprising, an estimated 40% of professionals state they have worked on a project that did not include a set budget or timeline. From these numbers, it’s clear that a focused and detailed plan and schedule are of paramount importance for ensuring contractors are paid on time and profitable by the end of the job.
With managing and coordinating payments involving a number of parties and detailed paperwork, a schedule of values is critical for keeping the process smooth and efficient.
In short, an SOV is significant for contractors and subcontractors because it is directly tied to cash flow. At least one in four contractors report that cash flow issues are holding back their business from growing. If there is no cash coming in, then work cannot continue. An schedule of values in construction, when used correctly, will help keep cash flow in check and ensure enough funds are available to keep the project moving forward on schedule. This also means that the document will change as the job progresses. For example, any change orders should be reflected and updated in the schedule of values.
When an SOV should be used
Contractors engaging in commercial or extensive, multi-step residential jobs will use a schedule of values. However, subcontractors should not shy away from utilizing an SOV. One thing general contractors and subcontractors can agree on is that bad communication and coordination is the primary cause for costly delays and cost overruns. A lack of transparency and communication will cause a loss of time and money, and can damage relationships. Including a schedule of values can help mitigate against these risks. Jobs require constant communication and a well thought out SOV helps facilitate effective communication and ensures transparency. It shows that there is a commitment to honesty and efficiency.
Example of what is included in a schedule of values
A schedule of values in construction will vary in terms of its contents and how it’s structured based on the specifics of the project at hand and what has been negotiated between parties. However, there is a basic consensus on what should be included in most SOVs.
As a best practice, SOVs should include the following:
- Business information (i.e. project name and number, name of contractors, addresses, etc.)
- Detailed description of each work item (breakdown of scope of work)
- Cost for each work item
- Amount that has been paid to date
- Percentage of work completed
- Current costs (from current billing period)
- Remaining cost for completion
- Retainage costs, percentages, and amounts for each item
- Consent and acknowledgement – It’s crucial to get signatures from all parties involved and include this section at the bottom of every SOV.
A well structured SOV will detail cost, level of completion, and percentage paid for each individual task, which helps contractors and subcontractors accurately monitor job progress and ensure work is progressing as planned. This helps contractors time payments so that invoices and proof of work can be submitted in a timely manner.
Common issues with schedule of values
As mentioned earlier, subcontractors should be on the lookout for agreements that front-load the SOV which will result in majority upfront payments. If creating an SOV yourself, it can be tempting to front-load the contract for your own cash flow needs. However, this should be avoided if possible as it is considered a bad accounting practice and can result in serious issues as change orders and inevitable obstacles will arise throughout the project.
In addition, front-loading can cause values for all work completed that will not match up to what they should be. If a dispute arises this can cause serious issues. If change orders are put in place, a contractor may not be able to collect extra money as a result of the change order if they have already front-loaded the schedule of values. This is due to difficulties in explaining why a line item would cost more at the start of a project versus later in the project.
In any case a subcontractor should be very familiar with any schedule of values they are working with. Disputes and disagreements may result in costly payment issues that can be difficult to negotiate. In this case the SOV is a powerful document in terms of mitigating disputes and preserving subcontractor rights. Since a schedule of values in construction presents a clear record of work completed and amounts to be paid, it can be leaned on to support a mechanics lien and will serve as a catalyst for a claim for money owed if the need arises.
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