What is a Punch List?

At the end of the project, most construction workers, managers, and contractors are ready to be done. They’ve worked hard, and the project looks ready. But before they can call it a good day’s work, they have to ensure that everything is up to par with what’s expected of them. That’s where punch lists come in. Before anyone can call a project completed, every item on the punch list must be taken care of. It’s construction’s version of making sure every i is dotted and t‘s crossed

Read on to learn what punch lists are, who uses them, how to create one, and how to improve punch list practices. 

Punch List Definition

A punch list (also called a snag list) is a document that lists any remaining work that must be done on a construction project before final payment is given. The list includes all of the deficiencies of the project that must be addressed before the project is considered fully completed. Typically, the items on the list are small because major items should have been taken care of earlier in the process. A punch list can also include damages caused by the construction process—like scuffed floors. 

A punch list differs from a checklist in one key way: the punch list only includes deficiencies. A punch list comes right at the end of a project, and it only includes anything that’s wrong and needs to be fixed. A checklist can be used at any point in the process, and it includes everything that needs to be done, including positive aspects. 

Who Uses Punch Lists?

Punch lists are used on construction projects, but who’s responsible for creating them, following through with the items and ensuring completion? Here’s the process of using a punch list: 

  • General contractors. General contractors typically help create the punch lists themselves as a project comes to a close. Some contractors will create one as the project goes to avoid hitting snags at the end of a project. The general contractors will also be responsible for communicating progress on the punch list to the owners and for communicating with the specialty contractors about what they need to take care of. 
  • Specialty contractors. Specialty contractors are typically the ones who take care of completing the punch list. They will also be the ones prioritizing what work needs to be done first. 
  • Owners. Owners will follow along with the list to track the progress of the project. At the end of the project, the owner will also be the one to sign off on the completion of the project and ensure that everything on the punch list was completed. 
  • Architects. The architects of the buildings are responsible for ensuring that the real-life products match the drawings. If something doesn’t match, they are responsible for adding that to the snag list. They are also present for signing off on the list at the end of the project. 

How to Create and Use a Punch List

A punch list can come in many forms, but typically, people will include items from these three categories: items to test, items to add, and items to fix. Below are some examples of each of these categories that can be added to future punch lists. 

Items to Test

Items to test include anything that will be important to the functioning of the building that can be tried out to ensure that it works properly. These might include: 

  • Appliances
  • Equipment
  • Doors & windows
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Mechanical elements
  • Communication systems
  • HVAC systems

Items to Add

Oftentimes, some features aren’t added until later in the project. Items to add include anything that still needs to be added like: 

  • Light covers
  • Hardware
  • Paint touch-ups
  • Coating/sealant

Items to Fix

Anything that’s damaged or defective needs to be fixed before completion. Items that need to be fixed might include: 

  • Leaks
  • Damaged materials
  • Improper installation
  • Cracks
  • Defective equipment

Example Punch List

It is often helpful to see an example of a punch list to see what it might look like or include. Below is an example punch list: 

Item Number Item Name Description Priority Created by Assigned to

Improving Punch Lists

Punch lists are an important part of any job. It’s what ensures everything is done properly and can be signed off on. But the lists can seem like a lot of work to create and use effectively. Below are four tips for best practices to improve punch lists: 

  • Don’t wait until the end. Waiting until the end of a project to begin the punch list can create higher levels of stress. Now someone will need to determine everything that needs to be done, and the whole team will need to complete everything right at the end when they’re already tired. If a team begins the punch list earlier on, they won’t be so worn out and will be able to focus on completing the project at a high level of quality instead. A contractor may begin creating a list as they work, so it’s not so stressful at the end of the project. 
  • Regular inspections. Holding regular “punch” inspections will help a team reach zero on a punch list faster. Inferior construction quality can slow down the end of a project, so it’s much more important to ensure that quality is built into the project as it’s happening. Quality checks along the way can reduce the need for expensive work and delays at the end of the project. A wide array of team members can support the general contractor in creating a list of things that should be regularly checked to ensure quality. will support your goal of getting to a zero punch list faster. One thing that crucially delays projects in the closeout stage is inferior construction quality. 
  • Cloud-based punch list. The world is shifting to the digital cloud for a reason. It helps keep everyone on the same page and allows people to make edits to documents from anywhere at any time. A cloud-based punch list can help a team take their lists to the next level. The cloud list can be accessed anywhere and updated by anyone with permission to do so. It can help keep architects and owners in the loop of how the list is shaping out. 
  • Set a budget. Projects often go over budget right at the end because no one accounts for the budget necessary to complete the punch list. Setting a budget for the list in advance can be a helpful tactic to keep a project on budget. With a budget in place during the initial project allocation, there are fewer questions about where the money will come to make repairs or add features.

Summit Fleet Is Your Expert

Overall, a punch list is an important part of the construction process. Here at Summit Fleet, we make it our business to know all about the construction industry and what is needed for companies to succeed. That’s why we offer affordable fleet truck rentals for construction companies and contractors. We know how important it is to have the right tools to get a job done right, and we want to help you have the fleet you need to do so. Learn more about how to get the job done right with Summit Fleet

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