What’s in a Punch List?
A construction punch list is typically created before the final inspection, and follows the terms of the original contract. At this point, the contractor or homeowner generates a list of items that may have been installed incorrectly, damaged during the course of work, or that are simply incomplete. For all these unaddressed items on the list, the contractor and customer will reach a mutual agreement before the considering the project complete and ready for final payment (typically, the contract includes the right to withhold payment until all the items have been completed correctly).
Items on a construction punch list may include both exterior and interior issues or focus on a single area, such as a kitchen remodel, depending on the type and scope of a project. Examples of common punch list items include damaged materials (such as drywall or a cracked driveway), items installed incorrectly (flooring or cabinetry), plumbing and electrical defects, and issues with mechanical components (thermostats, ductwork, appliances, etc.). Since no building project will ever be perfect, contractors may make a distinction between reasonable flaws (minor, insignificant flaws that still meet contract specifications) and unreasonable flaws (errors that must be fixed). A punch list identifies unreasonable flaws for correction.
In other industries, a punch list may function more like a to-do list. For example, a project manager in software development may use a punch list for prioritizing and tracking tasks. This is a simple tool that can help projects stay on schedule and ensure that team members understand the status of certain tasks and who is responsible for which items. One approach is to create a daily project punch list showing completed tasks and adding any new items to the primary roadmap. Doing this with team members can provide clear communication and consistent updates to a project plan.
In an ideal world, construction projects would be completed on schedule and budget. The fewer repairs that need to be made, the more profitable a project is for the builder, and the happier customers will be. While punch lists are standard and honored by contractors, many aim for zero-punch projects in order to save time, hassle, and money in the long run. A few things can help builders accomplish this:
- Clear Contract Documents: Starting a project with complete documents that cover all specifications will reduce the likelihood of any work not meeting standards or being overlooked.
- Quality Control: Focus on strict quality control during the building process to help reduce errors and prevent damage. Setting high standards from the start means including zero-punch goals in your planning, and evaluating the quality of work through every stage of a project.
- Communication: Depending on the project, this may include communication with owners, architects, subcontractors, or other parties. Having owners on site regularly during building to view the process can help ensure their satisfaction along the way. Additionally, welcome feedback from any tradesperson working on the project to support the evaluation process and help catch minor issues before they become major.
Inspection Tips for Owners
If you end up with zero items on your punch list, you have reason to celebrate - and your contractor will too, given the cost savings involved. However, you still have to go through an inspection process to determine that no repairs are necessary. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while doing a final walk through of the property:
- Use Blue Tape: Mark punch list areas with blue tape so they stand out and contractors have an easy visual reference. Carry a roll of it with you as you do your walkthrough, and mark each item that you add to the punch list.
- Bring a Friend: Having a second person with you will reduce the chances that you overlook something or forget to check an area.
- Take Your Time: Don’t rush the process, and be sure to inspect all installations as well as details (like the quality of the paint job).
- Bring Plans and Specifications: If you’re unsure about whether some work matches the contract agreement, keep the documents on hand as a reference.
- Take Notes: Write down the issues you see and any information that will be helpful for (the contractor or for yourself) to ensure that the issue is resolved.
Punch List: From Hole Punches to the Digital Age
While there are no concrete sources online for the origin of the phrase, the most likely hypothesis is that contractors and architects used to punch holes on a list to denote completed items. This created a “punch” list that was used during inspection and for documentation. A punch list may also be referred to as a snag list, which makes sense since unfinished or incorrect items are obstacles to completing a project, or “snags” in the process. In construction, “snagging” is a term used for identifying all the errors and omissions that you need to add to the snag list and correct. In some cases, you may also see punch list written as one word: punchlist.
Punch lists may have traditionally been physical documents with a list of items that you could punch or check off by hand, but digital punch lists are becoming increasingly common. A digital punch list may be included as part of construction management software or used as a mobile app. You can choose from web-based options and tools, and the templates provided below.
Project Management Punch List Template
Project managers deal with multiple tasks, changing priorities, and schedule adjustments - often on a daily basis. Having an organized punch list can help managers keep track of all these changes and inform both immediate and high-level decisions. This template is appropriate for project management in any field, and provides columns for marking the status, priority and due date of each task.
Construction Punch List Template - Excel
This template was designed specifically for construction project use. Punch list sections include both interior and exterior items, ranging from materials to furnishings and electrical issues. You can easily edit this template to include whatever punch list items are relevant for the project. You can also indicate who is responsible for the work and deadlines for completion.
Simple Punch List Form - PDF
If you need a form that you can quickly print and fill out by hand, this PDF template provides a basic list with room for brief information about each item. There is also a section at the top of the form for adding project and contact information. Contractors or owners can use this form to create a simple punch list.
Remodel Punch List Template
Use this residential punch list for a remodel or new home project. Simply add or remove items to reflect your needs. This spreadsheet template allows you to organize punch list items by location, trade, or completion status. You can add descriptions for each item and specify the work that still needs to be completed in order to resolve an issue.
Download Remodel Punch List Template
Commercial Construction Walkthrough Checklist
An inspection process can move smoothly when using a detailed walkthrough checklist. This commercial construction checklist is designed to work like a punch list, and provides sections for marking completion, costs, and contract issues. You can create a thorough list of items that have either been completed satisfactorily or still need to be addressed.
Download Commercial Construction Walkthrough Checklist
New Home Checklist
Buying a newly built home can be exciting, but it also requires careful planning, oversight, and inspection. To help ensure that your new home meets all of the agreed-upon requirements and specifications, you can use this checklist to do a complete walkthrough of each area of your house, plus outside spaces.
Download New Home Checklist
Use Smartsheet to Easily Manage All Your Construction Projects
In the construction business, clients and contractors alike want to the job to be finished on time and budget. Smartsheet is the cloud-based, collaborative work management solution that many of the world’s largest construction companies rely on to stay productive, communicate among far-flung teams, and document every step of every project. In fact, Smartsheet has a pre-built punch list template that you can use to perform your final property inspection. Access Smartsheet on your mobile device or tablet so you can update the list in real time as you walk through the property.
In addition to the pre-built construction templates available, Smartsheet can improve work and project documentation by capturing issues in real time, increase collaboration among project teams, vendors, and clients, and save time with accurate resource management. Enable Gantt charts for a timeline view of your project, set alerts to ensure no task is overlooked, and easily attach relevant documentation to build a central repository where stakeholders can access project details anytime, anywhere.