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 completion. 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.
In a residential construction project, both the builder and their client write a punch list towards the end of the build to make sure every item in the contract is completed. It is essential that builders and clients draft a detailed, effective punch list. 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, building firms schedule a final walkthrough of the finished project with the client in order to document any final tasks. Often clients, and sometimes building team members, spot inconsistencies with the intended result that require tracking. Keeping these last tasks organized and complete is vital to securing client sign off and ultimately that final payment on the 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.
Punch lists organize these final close out tasks. Built alongside the client, a punch list records the client’s expectations for clear communication to individuals completing the work. With full transparency on the list’s contents, builders and remodelers 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, clear communication, a builder sets him or herself up for success in closing out a project quickly and leaving their client satisfied.
How do builders + remodelers manage punch lists?
For many builders + remodelers, drafting a punch list is simple. Typically, builders and clients each conduct a walkthrough separately and look for small issues in the new home or remodel, such as problems with appliances, cabinet drawers, doors, and locks. During these walkthroughs, both the clients and building team members document a list of these items. The two separate lists are compiled into one final list that will be used by the building firm to prepare the home for the final close out. There are various tools and methods that builders use to create and manage their punch lists.
1. Manual Methods
The traditional notepad and a pen efficiently capture punch list items. Punch lists don’t have to be complicated and the simplicity of a pad and pen for this document can be a plus for smaller sized projects. However, paper is easy to lose and does not allow for digital collaboration with subcontractors 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.
A quick Google search shows just how many punch list tools are available. There are a variety of spreadsheet templates and software systems all created with the intent to help builders + remodelers master the punch list process. Excel or Google Sheets are two great places to start writing digital punch lists. These programs allow for easy online collaboration and speed up the project close-out process.
Some builders + remodelers use programs 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 include budget, project scope, and scheduling considerations.
3. Integrated Construction Management Tools
Integrated software suites provide the best solution for an efficient closeout process. CoConstruct is one example of an integrated construction management software that helps builders + remodelers closeout projects faster and get paid. In CoConstruct, builders can customize their own punch list, communicate with subcontractors and clients, and make edits from anywhere in the field, all while accessing important budget, scope, and schedule details. CoConstruct’s cloud-based software ensures that a project’s punch list is accessible to builders, clients, and subcontractors at any time.