Make Your Punch Lists More Effective

Picture this: After months of hard work, a new project is finally over. Excited, you meet with the clients and give them the keys to their new home. Just hours later, you receive a phone call from their agent. The clients aren’t happy with some of the finishes.
How did this happen? You made sure that everything was in perfect condition before delivery.
That’s where the proper execution of punch lists are so critical. This essential document can help you avoid embarrassing situations and ensure that you’ve taken all necessary issues under advisement and devised a plan to resolve them.
An effective punch list requires the combined responsibility of the client, contractor, subcontractors, and architects. Sure, that makes creating one a complex and time-consuming task, but it is still one of utmost importance for the success of a project and the reputation of your construction company.
While it’s true that every construction project has different safety concerns and challenges, the philosophy of punch list development is similar. Below you can find some things you must consider for your punch lists, starting with a definition of the concept and a description of what it entails.

What is a Punch List After All?

Simply put, a punch list is a report or record of the things that characterize the work that a contractor must perform. In effect, it shows what items contractors still need to tweak and adjust before a project is considered acceptable by a property owner.
A decent punch list will include all the things that need to be tended to before final occupancy, as well as a plan for completion. These things may include adjustments to installations, repairs, finishes, cleanups, and so on. If this list is complete and accurate, both the owner and the contractor will be happy at the end of a project.
Final payment depends on the fulfillment of the items on the punch list, so most contracts stipulate that builders need to inform an owner when they believe a project is “substantially complete” so that checks can be made regarding the completion of tasks.

How to Create an Effective and Productive Punch List For Contractors

Developing a good punch list takes an eye for detail and a lot of diligence. Here’s the thing: when creating a new project, the best approach is to check your work as you go and try to avoid slippage. That’s one of the primary reasons you need to document every step along the way. This may sound like a tedious task, and many construction companies are not always the most organized record keepers, but doing this will save a lot of time, resources, and frustration in the end.
Don’t shoot from the hip! Always check and double-check everything before meeting with a client, and write down what you think might be observed. In this way, you will be one step ahead and show your clients that you care about their projects and their satisfaction.

For Subcontractors

A punch list is a vital tool for subcontractors. This is mainly because the items on it will most probably fall under their responsibilities. They need to communicate with contractors to keep them apprised of the status of ongoing work and then document their progress. Part of this need comes from the unwavering truth that construction budgets are almost always altered, and these changes must be explained and supported by data.
Don’t make the mistake of believing that clients have no role in the development of a punch list. They should also walk the site before the punch list walk-through and write down every problem they notice. It’s possible that contractors or subcontractors could miss some of these items.

Tips and Tricks

There is a fundamental difference between a punch list and a checklist of errors. The aim of a punch list isn’t to punish but to help improve. Here are some steps you should take to make your punch list more powerful and productive:
  • Set clear expectations – both contractors and clients want to know what to expect at the end of the project.
  • Establish clear procedures for when a client comes to inspect work and ask questions.
  • Explain to your subcontractors and clients if there are any changes to the initial scope of the work being done.
  • Communicate extra costs and schedule modifications before starting a job. Agree with the client and have a written agreement signed.
Punch lists are critical to the finalization of a construction process. The more you delay resolving issues, the farther away your reward becomes. Making a punch list may seem like a big headache in the beginning, but it is worth investing time and effort in the creation of punch lists because they stand at the core of every construction project. If you want your punch lists to be robust and productive, you should devote extra consideration into their development.