Punch List | What Is It?
Written by Todd Fratzel.
Construction Punch List
If you’re ever planning on having a house built in the near future then its worth taking a minute to tell you what a punch list is. This is true whether you hire a general contractor to oversee the construction or if you hire all the sub-contractors yourself. A punch list is just a written list of deficiencies that are identified near the end of construction. The list is typically agreed upon by the owners and builders and final payment is usually tied to the completion of items on the list.
The term punch list comes from a process of punching holes in the margin adjacent to the task. This process was used years ago and provided the unique name that the list carries today. Today most contractors use some type of formal list that contains items which need to be completed along with identification of which trade “owns” the work.
Typical Punch List Items
Typically the punch list contains minor tasks that need to be completed. The punch list is usually organized in one of two ways. One way to organize the list is by listing tasks based on a room name or area of the house. Another popular way to organize a punch list is by trades like electrical, painting, HVAC, etc.
Items on the punch list might include:
- Fill nail holes in closet baseboard trim – Painter.
- Missing switch plate cover in the laundry room – Electrician.
- Paint run found on west wall in the guest bathroom – Painter.
- Baseboard heater registers missing end caps – HVAC Contractor.
- Crown molding not finished in kitchen – Finish Carpenter.
- Grout not sealed in mudroom – Flooring Contractor.
- Rear deck railings need post caps installed – Carpenter.
The idea is that the punch list provides location, task and responsible trade. Typically this list is started with a walk-through of the project near it’s completion. The walk-through usually includes the owner and/or owner’s representative and the general contractor and sometimes the sub-contractors.
Punch List & Contracts
Most Contracts between an owner and general contractor include a reference to the punch list and retainage. Retainage is money owed the contractor but not paid until a certain milestone is reached. Typically contracts hold 2% to 10% of the cost in retainage until the contractor finishes the punch list. This ensures that the work gets completed in a timely fashion.
If you end up being your own general contractor (GC) then I highly recommend you hold a certain amount of retainage on your sub-contractors and also discuss a detailed punch list near the end of the project. Telling your sub-contractors about the punch list and retainage ahead of time will keep the project moving without delays.
The bottom line is punch lists are a great way to make sure large projects are completed in a timely manner. The punch list makes sure that all parties understand who is responsible for the final tasks. It’s also a very useful tool for owner’s so they can keep track of the final project progress.
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