Construction projects of every size need to follow some sort of plan to ensure that they’re on time and executed as designed. When a project approaches the finish line, it’s easy for smaller tasks to fall through the cracks. Details might slip and work may become hurried, leading to projects that don’t always match the original plan. So what can you do to stay on top of projects and ensure everything gets completed correctly? Enter: The construction punch list. Download our free template and read on to learn more about how a construction punch list can save your project and ensure optimal success.
What Is A Construction Punch List?
A construction punch list (also known as a snag list outside of the U.S.) is a checklist of all the tasks to complete on a project. The goal of a contractor punch list is to highlight and eliminate remaining issues or items left on the list before responsibility shifts over to the client. It’s usually created in the final stages of a construction project and before the final walkthrough with the client. Used in everything from large commercial construction projects to smaller residential projects, these lists can help outline unreasonable flaws or errors that you should correct before reaching the deadline.
Download a Free Construction Punch List Template
There are two options for download. The first is a free template to use with Microsoft Excel and has the example styling included in the list, and the second is a blank version of a PDF.
What Is a Zero Punch List?
When learning about punch lists, you may hear the term “zero punch list” which is simply a term that describes a punch list with no outstanding punch items left to address. With the right punch list management, you can set yourself up for success as you and your team work towards a zero punch list and a project closeout. Here’s a breakdown of the sections that make a successful construction punch list.
Section 1: Add Task Location and Description
This is where you write an item or task that needs attention. It’s important to be as detailed as possible and include the location and description of the task:
- Location: This outlines where the task is located, such as “Primary Bedroom,” “Floor” or “Kitchen.”
- Description: This is where the specific action is described, such as a “paint touch up” or “broken tile to replace.”
Section 2: Determine Priority
Some tasks require immediate attention, while others can wait. The priority range should be:
- Low: You can do this task last, like a pile of bricks that needs to be cleaned up, for example.
- Medium: A noticeable issue, like a wall needing a touch-up due to scratches.
- High: A task that you should tackle immediately, such as exposed wiring or a cracked mirror.
Labeling what is an immediate priority and what can wait will help streamline the work to meet the required deadlines.
Section 3: Assign a Point of Contact
Part of creating a punch list is knowing who will tackle what. For tasks that are of high priority, it’s important to assign specialists. For example, an electrician should work on any wiring issues.
Section 4: Assign a Due Date
Noting the due date of a task will help keep things on track. It’s important to note that it will be different than the proposed completion date of the project. Aim for due dates to be at least a week before the proposed project end date, so you have plenty of time to wrap things up.
Section 5: Indicate Status
This essentially shows where the task is at in the completion process. Indicate whether a task is not yet started, in progress or complete to keep things moving through the pipeline and avoid delays.
How To Use a Punch List
Once you create the punch list, the contractor and the team will address the issues. The process starts with the contractor running through the project with the client and identifying any unreasonable flaws. An architect or designer may also join the walk-through to note any changes that must happen to complete the project and punch list.
Note that a punch list will usually only have smaller tasks that you need to finish before you mark the project as “complete,” though this isn’t always the case.
Who Is Responsible for the Punch List?
There is no single person instructed to create and manage the punch list. It’s a collaborative process that includes everyone in charge of the project. Each has an important role to play when it comes to the punch list:
- Owner/Client: The project owner is responsible for inspecting any of the completed work. They decide if something needs to be addressed by comparing what was outlined in the contract to the work that was done.
- General Contractor: The general contractor is in charge of examining everything on the punch list, including understanding the details and tasks. The contractor should be the one to assign the tasks, as they’ll be with the client during the walkthrough.
- Subcontractor: The subcontractor is responsible for the particular items on the list as assigned by the general contractor. Their job is to focus on the task(s) they are assigned and to regularly provide updates and concerns regarding the tasks at hand.
- Designer/Architect: The designer/architect is responsible for making sure the designs are in place and completed correctly. If the designs are not consistent with the original contract, the client and contractor need to be informed.
Punch List Best Practices
Here are some simple tips to make sure you execute your punch list efficiently and effectively.
- Start creating it during the job. One popular tip is to create a rolling punch list — a punch list created as the project progresses. Although a punch list may seem simple to create, it can cause confusion if you don’t do it properly.
- Make it as clear as possible. The rule of thumb is that if it needs to be clarified, it’s not clear. Everyone should know who, what, where and when to complete the task.
- Assign one employee to be in charge of the list. This isn’t a random checklist that you can toss around from person to person. Keep one person in charge of the list and give them full responsibility.
- Stay flexible. Stuff happens. If more issues arise, add them to the list and adjust. That is what the punch list is all about.
- Set a budget. Every project has a budget, and staying within the budget is a top priority. When creating a punch list for your project, estimate how much each punch list item will cost. As you work through the punch list, document the expenses, compare them with the original estimate and adjust accordingly.
- Conduct and document inspections regularly. As you conduct your inspections, use your punch list to take notes of every task. This will help you determine if the punch list item is ready to check off or if it requires revisiting.
A construction project is never as easy as it seems. Unexpected problems arise, and extra work will have to be done — it’s the industry’s nature. A construction punch list will make that job easier by clarifying any small details and the final things to finish. Along with punch lists, RFIs and construction daily reports can help to keep projects on track. To make the job even easier, use the punch list template we’ve included above. It will make other aspects of the job easier, including a construction daily report. This will help save your clients time and money, plus it could improve your overall standing.
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