A punch list is the document or list of items that define the work that doesn’t conform to the contract specifications, after substantial completion of the project. Where this is true, you see the punch list as more than items that do not conform to contract specifications.
A good punch list will define all items that need to be addressed before final occupancy and include a plan for completion. The list will include any minor repairs to finishes, cleanup, and any outstanding remaining installations. In some cases, the punch list will also include final additions to and any last-minute details.
By preparing a complete and accurate punch list, the construction team will have a clear understanding of the details remaining and everyone will leave happy.
When are punch lists used?
This step in the construction project is performed upon substantial completion of a project. It essentially marks the point at which the owner rather than the contractor is responsible for the project. The majority of construction contracts specify that a contractor should inform the project owner when they believe that their work is almost done.
The contractor should also request either the owner or the architect to carry out a “pre-final” project inspection. As soon as the architect receives the punch list, he or she has to verify whether the project is truly at a near-completion stage as the contractor claims. If yes, they examine whether the tasks included in the punch list have been completed, as they should, and that there is no other task left behind.
In the case where some of the tasks listed in the punch list aren’t completed, the contractor can reach a resolution agreement with the project owner for the pending tasks. Once this step is completed, the final payment can be released.
Who’s responsible for what in a punch list?
A client must be present near the end of the project. They should inspect the work and ask questions. A contractor will set up a meeting with the client to have a punch list walkthrough. A client should be prepared for the walkthrough and visit the site before the meeting to have a good understanding of what work has taken place and look at what is left. A client should not use the walkthrough with the contractor as the discovery session.
The GC should consult, have an eye for detail, and be prepared and helpful. The GC should be prepared to walk the client through and point out remaining items on the “to-do list.” They will use this meeting to show off their work and give an eye for the details. Good contractors will be able to show the client most of the items on the punch list, if not all. However, the contractor represents the client so they will consult and assist the client through the things that they feel the client would like to see.
Subs should get it done, follow up, and communicate any changes. The sub’s responsibility is to ensure the actual punch list tasks are completed and completed with a high level of workmanship. The expectation is always that these tasks will be completed efficiently and in a timely manner. However, there are often items that come up at the very end of the project, which add to the scope of work. A sub should know when changes are outside of the original scope of work, and communicate extra costs and schedule. Follow up and follow through are the biggest responsibilities of the subcontractor.
These team members must design intent, and confirm what was built. Architects or designers will often attend the punch list walkthrough to ensure what was on the drawings was in fact built. They are responsible to point out anything that was not built to the specified drawings. In some cases, the field engineering and design changes may not be accurate to the drawings, but rather client requested. In these cases, the architect and designer need to be okay with the changes even though they aren’t the original designs. They should lead the conversation and ensure the client got what the design intended.
Why use a punch list?
Quality control in construction is of the utmost importance, especially when it comes to legal issues. In most contracts, the general terms and conditions of the construction contract require the contractor to mark his work as “completed” after finishing and to request a preliminary inspection.
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.
A well-written punch list can be a powerful guide throughout the whole project as it will include every single task that should be completed.
A good punch list can pave the way for smooth collaboration between the numerous project stakeholders. Now that the roles and responsibilities are defined, all there is left to do is get it done.