What Is a Punch List? Checklist & Items Included

ProjectManager.com

It can feel like the tasks never stop when you’re managing a construction project. Not only are there new ones to tackle, but some of the old ones may require a revisit. Maybe a stakeholder changed their mind on the color of a wall, or an inspector says your insulation isn’t up to code.

How can you wrangle in all that work, organize it and make sure that you’ve completed everything required of you to complete the project? In construction project management it’s common practice to use a construction punch list—but they can be used in any industry!

What Is a Construction Punch List?

A construction punch list is simply a list of tasks that must be completed before project closeout. It doesn’t include the major work of the project, but rather the smaller or minor tasks, the stragglers that still need to be finished.

They are used by project managers, general contractors, engineers and architects to track work that must be completed to comply with the terms of the contract. It is usually used at the end of the construction project for understandable reasons, though it can be helpful throughout the project.

When you use a construction punch list throughout the course of the project, it’s called a rolling punch list. It’s a constant check of the work. Each task has a hard deadline. This helps to save time later in the project because you’re getting the work done right the first time.

If you keep track of all your project tasks from the beginning, you might have a zero punch list project. This term is used when you’re able to complete projects without having pending punch list items at the end or your construction project.

Making and executing your punch list is easy with the help of project management software. With ProjectManager for instance, you can update your punch list anywhere with an internet connection. Plus, all the project information updates in real time, so everyone else on the project can see your progress. You can even assign them tasks if you need additional help. Take a free trial today.

Punch list in ProjectManager for a construction project
Easily knock out your punch list with the collaborative list view in ProjectManager. Learn more

Why Is It Called a Punch List?

If you’re curious as to the origins of the term “punch list,” it comes from when people used to punch a hole next to the item on their to-do list once it was done. Like then, today the punch list means that the project is substantially complete.

At that point, the general contractor and the project owner will do a site walkthrough and use a punch list to note any deficiencies that require work before the contract can be closed out. Once these last items are taken care of, the final payment for the job can be delivered.

In the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, punch lists are called snag lists.

Why Use a Punch List?

A punch list is a construction management tool used to ensure that the terms of the contract have been met, and they are typically created during a punch list walkthrough of the almost-complete job site. This walkthrough allows all parties to observe and note anything that is missing or needs attention. These punch list items are collected on the list, which then is used to save time and meet the requirements of the project effectively.

A punch list is a communication tool used between the general contractor and owner to make clear what outstanding work or issues remain in the construction project. This way, both the contractor and the project owner can sign off on the work. This avoids confusion or misinformation that can prolong the project and wreak havoc on its schedule and budget.

Punch Lists Help You Delegate

The punch list format is used to not only identify and detail the work, but also designate the responsible party and the timeframe that it is expected to be completed in. They give teams a construction management tool to record and track their task, as well as a means to collaborate to complete them more efficiently. This simple list keeps everyone on the same page, and helps to meet deadlines and expectations.

A Perfect Tool to Finish Strong

Therefore, the uses of a punch list are many. They help create a clear communication channel between the general contractor or specialty contractors and the project owner. It identifies and helps to manage issues or small work that requires attention. It assigns someone to make sure the work is done. Finally, it tracks the progress on that work.

Punch List Items

A punch list item is any task that must be completed before project closeout. Therefore, the items included in a construction punch list are dependent on the project, the owner, client, contractors, architects, subcontractors, etc. There is no one standard. There is, however, some commonality between all of them.

Every punch list item should include the location of the work, the name of the task and a deadline by which it must be completed. In construction projects, some common punch list items that will make it onto the snag list can include appliances not working, cabinets, doors and drawers not opening properly, damaged floors, and so on.

Construction punch lists are helpful documentation for your project. They prevent having to rework items over and over again. It’s through documentation and communications that the items are tackled effectively.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at our construction punch list example.

Sample Punch List Checklist

The basics of a punch list format are who, what and where. But that’s only the foundation, and most will have space for much more construction management information. The following image is the free punch list template that we offer on the site.

free punch list template
ProjectManager’s punch list template

If you’re using our punch list template for Excel or looking to make your own, here’s a checklist of the components that make up a thorough punch list.

  • Project Information: Every construction punch list needs to identify the project, including the project number, the address if applicable, the project manager and the architect.
  • Punch Number: Every punch list item should have a number to distinguish it and make it easier to find and talk about.
  • Description: Here’s where you’ll explain what the task is and how to execute it.
  • Location: Where is the task located? This is especially important when referring to a construction site.
  • Type: It helps to define the type of work, for example, what department it might apply to, such as maintenance, carpentry, etc.
  • Owner: The owner is the person on the team who is responsible for executing the punch list item and following it through to close.
  • Priority: Not all tasks are the same, some are of a high priority, others are not. This is where you can make that clear so people know what to do first.
  • Date Observed: The site walkthrough is usually where the task is first observed, but it can be noticed by a crew member. That date needs to be captured.
  • Date Expected to Be Complete: This notes the estimated duration of the punch list item.
  • Date Approved: Just because a task is identified doesn’t mean it will be executed. Only after someone in authority says it must be done will work commence on it. That date is recorded here.
  • Date Completed: The date the actual work is finished.
  • Status: Notes if the work is in progress or complete, open or closed, etc.
  • Notes: Anything that falls outside the perimeters of the above categories.

A punch list template will help you manage your construction projects, but it’s not the only way to create one. Most construction projects today use punch list software or punch list apps.

Best Practices for Filling Out a Construction Punch List

Whether you choose a punch list template or punch list software, there are ways to get the most out of it and use it more effectively.

Clearly Outline Who’s Responsible

One thing that helps you work more efficiently when managing the punch list is having only one person responsible for its upkeep. They will be the person who has authority over the punch list management. That person would need to be someone higher up in the management of the project, even the project manager.

Track Early and Often

Don’t wait to do a punch list walkthrough at the end of the project. In keeping with the philosophy of a rolling punch list, have regular site walkthroughs with the architect and project owner. The point of this process is to satisfy the stakeholders.

Always Communicate

Keeping the lines of communication open is always helpful in construction management. Encourage openness among all those involved in the project. Keeping everyone talking will facilitate the work and likely lead to fewer problems that will have to be addressed on a punch list. Remember, the goal is to achieve a zero punch list project, without any pending items at project closeout!

How ProjectManager Can Help Your Punch List

The traditional way to use a punch list is to have a list and punch out those tasks once completed. But punch list software has created efficiencies that make managing a punch list easier and more productive. ProjectManager.com is award-winning software that helps you organize your construction management work better than any punch list app.

Multiple Views for Completing Your Construction Punch List

Instead of a punch list, use our kanban board, which is one of our features that visualizes workflow. It’s made up of columns and cards. The columns are the stages of work and the cards represent the items on your snag list. Like on a regular punch list, you can add a detailed description and set the priority, but you can also create customized tags to link it to a department or location. Of course, we have both a traditional list view and Gantt chart view if you prefer.

Kanban board manages your punch list

Construction Management Data That Updates Instantly

Stakeholders can be updated with one-click filterable reports or show them the high-level view on a real-time dashboard. Data is automatically collected and calculated, then displayed in easy-to-read graphs and charts that show metrics such as time, costs and more.

a screenshot of the punch list task management dashboard in ProjectManager

ProjectManager is a cloud-based tool that helps you plan, monitor and report on your construction projects. Our multiple project view lets you work how you want. Use Gantt charts to see your tasks on a timeline, kanban boards to visualize workflow, dynamic task lists and even a calendar view for important dates. Try ProjectManager free today with this 30-day trial.

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