Punch lists are a part of a construction contract that helps to meet and ensure the quality of the project. Throughout each phase of the construction process, a checklist is maintained by the contractor that details any unfinished and/or unacceptable work. Any items that are found to not meet quality standards and do not conform to the scope as outlined in the contract documents must be corrected by the contractor in a timely fashion and usually prior to receiving final payment on the project.
A common practice in the construction industry, is that contracts are written in such a way that allows ownership (client) to withhold retainage from the contractor until the punch list items are completed to meet the contract specifications or that some other mutually agreed upon resolution is attained.
Depending on the size of a renovation project, the punch process may consist of two phases, “substantial completion” and “final completion”. The substantial completion process allows the usage of the renovated space by the owner, but at the same time outlines any issues or items remaining to be completed. While during the final completion process, all outstanding issues or items have been remedied.
What is the contractor’s responsibility?
Even before a punch list has been developed, the contractor should be providing daily reports to update ownership and the project team on any discoveries as well as the progression of the project. These daily reports will provide ownership with a good understanding of what work has taken place as well as what work is left to be completed.
As a representative of the owner, the contractor must possess considerable knowledge of the project, be detail oriented, walking through and taking notes during each phase of the project. Once this list is developed, it is important that the contractor along with tradesmen walk through with ownership and any other owner representative including the architect and/or designer, pointing out the deficiencies and developing strategies for correcting any unsatisfactory or unfinished work.
What is ownership’s responsibility?
So that ownership is prepared for the walk through, it’s critical that daily reports are studied in order to have a good understanding of the work that has been completed as well as what’s remaining to be done. Visiting the job site prior to the walk through also helps prepare the owners to ask good questions and communicate to the contractor any remaining expectations.
As this is a very important aspect of the construction process, ownership should always take the time to attend the walk through to ensure project specifications and expectations are met. Ownership should not be reluctant to participate and/or sign off on this process. Signing off doesn’t mean that if ownership finds a problem relating to workmanship down the road, that the contractor is relieved of any responsibility in amending these issues. Sign off simply signals that the project area is ready for use and moves any potential future issues to the warranty phase.
Understanding the Architect/Designer Roles of the Punch Process
The role of the architect and/or designer during the punch process is that of assuring that the construction that has been performed meets with the specified drawings and/or designs.
In some cases design elements may have to be foregone sometimes due to the request of ownership and in other instances due to possible unattainable engineering elements. In such instances, both architect and designer need to come to terms and sign off on any of these changes.
The punch process is a critical part of any construction project. This process is considered the final task as it lays the path to completing a successful project. Providing timely input by the entire project team is crucial. It’s at this juncture that the contractor along with key members of the project’s team such as ownership, architect/designer, subcontractors and tradesmen are able to address and correct those items on the punch list that serve to ensure project specifications are met and that the project is delivered on time and on budget.
When selecting your general contractor for your next renovation project, ask about their punch list approach and what steps they have in place to make your renovation experience a great one.