What Is a Punch List in Construction?

 June 11, 2021 by Michael Gober & Denis Gritsiyenko

Happy clients, happy life. 

(Maybe that's not the exact phrase, but it's true.)

You might have heard the term “punch list” thrown around in conversations about construction projects. But what is it? And how can one lead to happy clients?

Knowing what a punch list is can help you and your building projects end successfully. And your clients will be happier.

In this article, you'll learn more about how a punch list is made and what types of things should be included in one.

  1. Simplify Sending Your Construction Punch Lists With CM Fusion
  2. What Is a Punch List?
  3. What Is the Purpose of a Punch List?
  4. When Is a Punch List Used On a Construction Project?
  5. Benefits of Using a Punch List
  6. Construction Punch List FAQs
  7. How to Successfully Send a Punch List in Construction
  8. Send Your Next Construction Punch List With CM Fusion

Simplify Sending Your Construction Punch Lists With CM Fusion

Construction companies have to keep track of a lot of different information. And it can be difficult to manage all the data.

This leads to delays in decision-making, and sometimes even costly mistakes.

CM Fusion is a cloud-based construction management software that helps your company:

  • Coordinate your projects in one place, which you can access from your mobile device.

  • Share project data with subcontractors, suppliers, and clients quickly and easily.

  • Save time by keeping track of key items throughout the life cycle of your project. 

  • Have complete control over what types of content users are allowed to upload as well as who has access to it. 

  • Send out notifications when work is completed or if something needs more attention from contractors on site.

All this means …

… you'll reduce errors on site because everyone involved in the project knows exactly what's going on at all times.

Ultimately, CM Fusion’s goal is to provide a better way to serve your clients and improve overall business operations.

What Is a Punch List?

A punch list is a list of items that need to be fixed or completed on a construction project. 

The term comes from the fact that contractors in the past would punch holes in the paper next to each completed item on the list. 

While today’s technology has made this practice outdated …

… having a punch list is still an important part of commercial construction projects.

What Is the Purpose of a Punch List?

The purpose of a punch list (also known as a snag list) is to make sure that every item on the project has been completed. It’s done before it can be considered complete and signed off by the project owner.

A contractor will also use a punch list for quality control. 

For example, the contractor might request a punch list from a client when they notice some last-minute items that need to be finished. 

This includes touch-ups to: 

  • Painting 

  • Flooring; and 

  • Drywall

Punch lists are also used to ensure that everything was completed properly to avoid problems later.

Contractors and project owners also find punch lists to be a valuable part of the project when it is being completed over multiple phases.

Who Uses Punch Lists in Construction?

Punch lists are used by ...

  • General contractors

  • Project owners

  • Subcontractors

  • Architects; and

  • Designers

... when they want to make sure everything is completed on a project.

Sometimes plumbers and drywallers use punch lists when asked to provide them.

The request for a punch list is meaningful to construction companies that are managing multiple phase projects.

Who Is Responsible for Resolving Construction Punch List Items?

General Contractor Punch List Obligations

The general contractor punch list obligations may include:

  • Understanding the details of the overall project.

  • Working with project owners to develop a punch list.

  • Creating punch lists for subcontractors to complete.

Project Owner Punch List Obligations

The project owner punch list obligations oftentimes include:

  • Listing uncompleted work and asking questions to get clarity on the scope of the project.

  • Providing the general contractor with a punch list.

  • Conducting additional walkthroughs when requests have been addressed.

Subcontractor Punch List Obligations

For subcontractors, common items found on punch lists include:

  • Completing the construction company's work requests.

  • Checking the work requests to make sure nothing is left undone.

  • Explaining an overview of all repairs. And if necessary, why they are not to specifications.

Architect or Designer Punch List Obligations

The architect or designer punch list of obligations may include:

  • Identifying any remaining items that were not addressed during construction.

  • Verifying that final tasks are complete. 

  • Walking through the last inspection to ensure all work has been completed according to plan and specifications.

When Is a Punch List Used On a Construction Project?

During Construction

It is good practice to walk through and provide subcontractors with a punch list during construction.

For example, if subcontractors do not comply with electrical codes or fire codes:

  • The work could be at risk of not passing inspection.

  • It could take much more time, which puts the project timeline in jeopardy.

  • There could be an increased cost to fix mistakes later.

In this case, a well-developed punch list would include all items that need to be included to pass inspection 

Any work that is identified as deficient should be assigned to a subcontractor to complete the project.

Once the Project Is Complete

Once everything on the final checklist has been completed satisfactorily ...

  • Then the construction company may sign off on the punch list, or

  • They might point out other unfinished tasks that require attention first

    • Such as installing fixtures or finishing painting 

If there are any questions about whether something was done correctly during construction, a punch list will reveal those issues so they can be fixed right away. 

For contractors, a punch list also helps to see how close they are to:

  • Closing out the project.

  • Getting the punch list signed off by the general contractor.

  • Receiving payment for a project.

Benefits of Using a Punch List

The benefits of using a punch list are hard to ignore. 

A professional contractor will take the time to inspect, evaluate and establish priorities for all aspects of the property.

As soon as they are finished, property owners can rest assured that any defects or possible problems have been found and addressed before they become serious issues.

Let's take a closer look at two of the main benefits of using a punch list.

Quality Control

Quality control can be a big problem in the construction industry. 

The lack of quality control can lead to:

  • Lower profits

  • Unhappy clients

  • Unnecessary waste

However ... 

By using punch lists during the building process, contractors have something concrete to work from.

When it comes time to do final inspections, punch lists ensure that outcomes have been done right.

Punch lists can also:

  • Help everyone involved in the construction project stay organized.

  • Prevent contractors from missing anything important along the way.

  • Ensure that money is not wasted on mistakes or oversights.

Makes Passing on a Project More Efficient

As a contractor, you have a lot on your plate.

When managing several projects and teams, it can be difficult to keep everyone in the loop on what needs to happen next.

A punch list provides a documented record of any unfinished items before passing on a construction project.

This eliminates:

  • Confusion and prevents projects from slipping through the cracks.

  • Delays in completing both major and minor projects.

  • Additional costs associated with rework. 

CM Fusion helps general contractors manage their workload by giving them access to punch lists and checklists. Easily keep track of all outstanding items on any given project. 

This saves time and ensures that no jobs are left unfinished or sub-par.

Construction Punch List FAQs

How Do Contractors Use a Construction Punch List?

Contractors use punch lists to identify the outstanding items on a particular project. 

Punch lists also help contractors to:

  • Stay organized and up-to-date on the progress of the project.

  • Complete tasks efficiently so projects can be finished according to schedule.

  • Know how close they are to getting paid for their completed work.

Punch lists differ with each client and may be detailed enough so contractors know what to do if they need to move on before a project is completed.

What Is a Punch List Example?

A punch list details what remains unfinished in construction projects. 

An example of a punch list might include items like:

  • Installation of light fixtures and electrical outlets (complete) 

  • Painting the exterior (in process) 

Punch lists are also great for contractors to see what has been completed in construction projects.

What Are Some Examples of Punch List Items?

Some examples of punch list items include: 

  • Missing hardware on cabinets

  • Paint touch-ups needed

  • Broken window panes

  • Cracked tile flooring

  • Doors not hung

  • Carpet that needs replacing

What Is the Construction Punch List Process?

To understand the punch list process, take a look at the following steps: 

  1. A general contractor will make a list of minor and major fixes to the project. 

  2. The contractor will set up a walkthrough with stakeholders — project owners, subcontractors, designers, and architects — so that everyone understands what is fixed and how it should look after being corrected.

  3. All stakeholders note any issues that still need to be addressed.

  4. The contractor, project owner, and appropriate subcontractors address any variations or updates to what was originally specified.

  5. Once all of the punch list items have been identified, the project owner creates the punch list for the general contractor.

  6. A plan is developed for subcontractors to take care of unfinished tasks.

  7. Subcontractors check off items as they are completed in order from top-down or bottom-up. It depends on the preference of the general contractor.

  8. Once all items are checked off, the designers and architects do a final walkthrough to ensure that the punch list is complete.

Contractors will then know what has been completed in the construction project.

How to Successfully Send a Punch List in Construction

One of the most important elements in construction is ensuring that all the details of a project are fully developed. This means that you need to know how to send a punch list successfully. 

If you want your project completed on time and without any problems …

Take note of the following tips for sending out quality punch lists:

  1. Make a punch list of all the things that need to be completed, repaired, or fixed.

  2. Send this list to the construction company — and make sure they understand what needs to be done.

  3. Keep in contact with your contractor about any updates or changes you plan to make.

  4. Follow up with the contractor after everything is complete. You want to get reimbursed for any additional costs not included in the original contract.

  5. If there are still issues, keep sending them back until it's resolved.

  6. Be courteous and professional when communicating with your contractor - don't make demands without giving an alternative suggestion first.

Send Your Next Construction Punch List With CM Fusion

Punch lists are an important part of any project's closure. But they can be time-consuming and tedious if done manually. 

CM Fusion automates this process by providing cloud-based construction management software that can save you time and give you peace of mind.

Our software is perfect for construction companies and contractors who want to use their phone in combination with voice-to-text to:

  • Track punch list items in real-time.

  • Communicate with clients about progress on each item.

  • Automatically generate reports that can be sent out immediately or after the completion of projects.

The construction industry has been slow to adopt technology to better serve client projects.

But your company no longer has to keep using an outdated process.

With CM Fusion, you can manage all of your projects from your phone or computer — which means no more flipping through papers or searching through emails for important documents. 

Project owners, contractors, and subcontractors will be able to see ...

  • Punchlists

  • Photos; and

  • Other communication

... all in one place, which will save time and frustration. 

Our intuitive and easy-to-use software will even allow you to run reports and see all of your punch lists – for one project or across projects – in one place.

And if there are any changes needed throughout the process, you can make changes quickly. And it will update everything automatically for all users.

With CM Fusion, you'll never again have to worry about whether or not the job was done right.

Try a 30-day free trial today.


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