A punch list is a list of tasks and items that need to be fixed or completed before a construction project can be considered finished. Creating and completing an accurate punch list is essential in delivering a successful project. This step in the construction project is performed last so that all work can be reviewed and double checked. To ensure the best review process, the contractor, subcontractor, owner, and architect should all walk through the project together. Each has a specific role in providing that the punch list is completed successfully. Also, having multiple sets of eyes will help catch all remaining issues and flaws.
What Goes Into a Construction Punch List?
While it’s not mandatory, it’s a traditional element of many construction processes and is still widespread. Usually, a construction punch list is created before the project is completed. Specifically, companies will start a punch list when the construction project reaches substantial completion.
Substantial completion is a legal term used within the construction industry. It marks the point at which the owner rather than the contractor is responsible for the project. The American Institute of Architects determine substantial completion at the moment that the owner could occupy the building, or the building can be used for its intended use.
To create a construction punch list, the owner, contractor, and other stakeholders walk through the project and list out remaining work. Designers and architects attend to make sure the building matches their plans, while subcontractors and contractors attend to determine if any issues are reasonable or unreasonable.
This last part is crucial because every project will have some flaws. So reasonable deficiencies must be defined out and explained. This can include minor flaws that meet all specifications, like a small ding in the floor or paint splatter on a pipe. Unreasonable flaws are errors that must be fixed. This could be the walls being the wrong color, or even bigger issues. The punch list is a to-do list to fully complete a project.
Roles in Creating a Punch List
Every role in the construction project should have a spot on the walkthrough because they need to know what their responsibilities may be. The owner or client will probably lead the walkthrough with the contractor and subcontractors becoming responsible for last changes or fixes. Here is a break down of the roles and their responsibilities in creating a construction punch list.
Owner – The owner or client will lead the walkthrough and inspect the work. They must ask questions about anything they might not understand. The owner should list any work that is incomplete or not completed properly or to contract. They must give the contractor their punch list so these issues can be resolved.
Architect/Designer – The architect or designer’s role is rather small in this part of the construction process. They must confirm that what they designed was built and that any changes were approved by them, and all appropriate bodies.
General Contractor – The general contractor may go on a walkthrough with the owner but will have their own to examine all building details. Using the owner’s construction punch list and their walkthrough they will create punch lists for the subcontractors and trade contractors that worked on the project.
Subcontractors – The subcontractors will take the punch lists and address each request. Some of these addresses could explain why certain elements might not be made to specifications. They will also have to address and document all changes and explain what fixes were made.
With this completed, it is easier for the project to close out. These lists and explanations will have to be turned into the owner or client for approval. Once the punch lists are approved the process is complete.
How Contractors Use a Construction Punch List
There is only one way to use a punch list; it is how contractors and owners communicate any outstanding tasks and issues with a building before the owner takes full ownership. However, there are a couple of ways to go about building a punch list. Some might still use a combination of spreadsheets and actual hole punches; however, this is less popular. Now there are a variety of apps and software options available to help with punch list creation and completion. The main goal is for each person to sign off on their assigned portion of a punch list to guarantee that everyone saw outstanding work, and saw when that work was finished.
Going for Zero
Going for zero construction punch list is an ambitious goal of many construction companies. The idea is that by the time the project reaches substantial completion there are no punch lists at the end. By not having to make many punch list changes projects are more profitable. There are many ways for companies to be able to improve their chances of going for zero-punch.
By improving quality control procedures, enforcing clear contract documents, documentation, and communication companies should be able to go for zero. The first step to being able to get close to a zero construction punch list is to have clear contract documents. Complete documents should cover all specifications to prevent the amount of necessary rework. Next contractors need to enforce documentation and communication across all stakeholders. This ensures that there is documentation to back up any changes, and communication to show when changes were made. Finally, quality control must become a top priority. Every step of the project should be checked for quality before starting a new phase. This can reduce end of project rework and help contractors reach their zero punch goals.