What is a punch list?
A punch list is a list of items in a construction project that a client designates as non-negotiables for the completion of their project. While the concept of a “final review” or an “approval process” may exist in other industries, the term, punch list, is an industry-specific term in construction to capture this same idea.
In a residential construction project, both the contractor and their client write out their respective punch list towards the end of the build to ensure every item in the contract is completed to the satisfaction of both parties. These lists vary from project to project and there usually is no one size fits all solution. It is essential that builders and clients draft a detailed and effective punch list so that after the two parties go over the list and identify any issues that need to be addressed prior to the project’s conclusion, they can fix said issues. In the United States, clients are allowed to withhold payment from builders until every item on the punch list is completed.
Why are punch lists important in residential construction?
As a project winds down and nears completion, residential construction firms schedule a final walkthrough of the finished project with the client to document any final tasks that need to be done. Often clients, or building team members, spot inconsistencies that need documenting and tracking in a construction punch list before they are attended to. Keeping these last tasks organized is vital to securing client sign off and ultimately that final payment on the construction project. Forgetting, or losing sight of, just a couple of these items could delay the end of a project by weeks costing valuable time and money, and could result in an unfavorable review or the loss of a reference for future projects.
Construction punch lists organize these final close out tasks to streamline the closing work for contractors. Built in conjunction with the client, a punch list records the client’s expectations for completing the remaining work. With full transparency on the list’s contents, contractors build trust with clients that their final wishes will come to fruition, laying the groundwork for a smooth transition of the project over to the client. By fostering frequent and clear communication with clients, contractors set themselves up for success in closing out projects quickly and leaving their clients satisfied.
What and who are included in a construction punch list?
Clients, contractors, and trade partners are all involved in construction punch lists.
Construction punch list roles
The client’s role is to evaluate the project as it is winding down to ensure that everything meets their expectations as laid out in the expected deliverables in the contract. If the client has a question or is unsure of something but does not bring it up during the punch list process it may not get recorded and addressed. This may leave the clients dealing with the issue on their own or paying for the contractor to return to work on the problem after the fact.
The contractor's role is to examine the project jobsite to add their own punch list items and ensure that they fully understand the scope of items on their client’s punch list. After punch lists are compiled, the contractor needs to also communicate tasks to team members and trade partners responsible for completing their punch list tasks.
Trade partner’s role is to address punch list items assigned to them by the general contractor that are in their area of expertise.
Construction punch list process
The punch list process generally consists of a walkthrough of the project jobsite with the contractor and client either together or separately. During this walkthrough both parties identify and clearly document items that need to be addressed prior to closing and the final payment being made. After punch list items are added the contractor then coordinates with team members or trade partners to accomplish the remaining items. Constructing a punch list is a very important step in closing out a project but this process can also occur at major milestones to ensure that the project is progressing as planned.
How do home builders and remodelers use punch lists?
There are various tools and methods that home builders and remodelers utilize to create, update, and manage their punch lists.
Punch lists don’t have to be complicated and the simplicity of a pad and pen for this document can work for smaller projects. However, paper is easy to lose and does not allow for digital collaboration with trade partners and clients. Digital collaboration tools help builders in closing out their projects faster, plus keep track of all these items at a crucial time in the project.
There are a variety of punch list tools available in the market today including punch list templates, checklist, and software systems. Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets are two great places to start writing digital punch lists at relatively low cost. These programs allow for easy online collaboration and speed up the project close-out process with adequate documentation.
Some home builders and remodelers use punch list software specifically designed for creating punch lists. These programs include Punch List and Fieldwire. While these platforms automatically generate PDF reports for teams on a modern interface, they miss key components of the project. Much of a punch list goes beyond just the items or tasks needing to be done, and includes budget, project scope, and scheduling considerations.
Integrated construction project management
Integrated construction project management software like CoConstruct provides the best end-to-end solution for an efficient closeout process. In CoConstruct, contractors can customize their own punch list, communicate with trade partners and clients, and make edits from anywhere in the field on a mobile app, all while accessing important budget, scope, and schedule details. CoConstruct’s construction management software ensures that a project’s punch list is accessible to builders, clients, and trade partners at any time.
Frequently asked questions about punch lists
When are punch lists typically executed?
Punch lists are typically executed before the closeout process of a project or build but punch lists can be executed at any major milestone during a project to ensure that the section meets the expectations of the clients, contractor, and contract.
What is a zero punch list in construction?
A zero punch list in construction is when after a client and contractor walkthrough occurs, no deficiencies, issues, or problems are identified by either party. A zero punch list is a building standard for contractors to strive towards producing work that meets their client’s expectations on time and without any issues.
What is the difference between a snag list and a punch list?
Where a punch list is a list of items that need to be addressed prior to a project being completed, a snag list is a list of items that are holding up a project from being completed. Punch list items can be added by clients or contractors while snag list items are typically only added by contractors. Punch lists are also typically compiled towards the end of a project while a snag list is living document throughout the build documenting problem areas.