Punch List for Construction: The Ultimate Guide

Punch List for Construction

All good things come to an end, and in construction, a punch list is a telltale sign that the construction project is nearing completion.

A punch list for construction projects or also known as a snag listin the UK is a document prepared near the completion of a construction projectthat lists all the all the items that do not conform to agreed specificationsin the construction plans. Usually, the general contractor will arrange for the pre-final walkthrough of the property with the owner as well as the architect to check if there are any items that don’t conform to specs.

Although it’s not exactly known exactly where the term “punch list” as we know it today originated from, it is thought of that back in the old days, it literally meant punching a hole next to an item to indicate that it has been done. Nowadays, a punch list can be done manually, inputting it through a spreadsheet or construction software with punch list module.

If you are new to construction, or simply want to learn more about the punch list process, this article will try to explain everything that you need to learn about construction punch list process. 

Who Are the People involved in completing a punch list for construction projects

One of the first things that you need to know is who are the people who are involved in the punch list process. The list below are the major four players involved in the construction punch list.

  1. Ownersconstruction

The owner is the most important player the success of a punch list. The owner bears the responsibility to be fully aware of the progress of the construction project as well as the issues that need to be addressed. It’s a good idea for owners to be present in every phase of the construction to check if everything is going well. So that a lengthy punch list can be avoided near the end of the construction.

Owners or their representatives are required to be present during the pre-final project walkthrough in order for them to see the issues that need to be addressed prior to project completion. This is important because owners who are well-informed also save themselves from unnecessary costs and headaches incurred by project reworks and revisions that can be addressed through a thorough punch list.

  1. Contractor

The contractor is the one in charge of the pre-construction walk thru. Before the final completion of a construction project, most clients would require the contractor to send a notification stating that the project is nearing completion. At this point, the owner or the owner representative is invited to a pre-final walk-through. It is at this stage that the contractor comes up with a list of items that are pending completion or need to be revised and fixed.

  1. Architects/Designers

ArchitectThe architect is also present during the punch list process. As the designer of the project, an architect should be able to point out which aspects of the project do not coincide with that of the drawings. Also, an architect should be able to adjust to ever-changing project needs such as client preferences and address these issues through a well-crafted punch list.

  1. Subcontractors

The subcontractors are the heavy lifters. They are the people who make sure that everything in the punch list is done. The contractor will allow a time frame to the subcontractor to finish the punch list, and the subcontractor has to work within a specific time frame to accomplish the said tasks. And to do this, subcontractors must be open to communication with the contractor regarding updates and issues that might come up in accomplishing the punch list. 

Zero Punch List 

Getting all the punch list items crossed out is the goal of every punch list process, however, the best punch list is no punch list at all.  This may seem impossible, but, getting to the goal of having a zero punch list is possible, but requires a team effort from the entire team. A zero punch list goal must be integrated into all aspects of the construction process – from planning, communication up to completion.  Contractors and project managers swear by the following methods in achieving a zero punch list.

Rolling Punch List

ConstructionImplementing a rolling punch list means that there should be constant tracking and checking of what needs to be fixed throughout the construction process with a due date to when these items need to be fixed. Doing this will ensure that by the end of the project, you will be left with a very minimum number (if any) or zero items in your punch list.

Assign One Person for List Management

Too many cooks damage the broth, so to keep misunderstandings to a minimum, assign a point person to manage the list. But, make sure that the person should be competent and experienced enough to manage the list items, whether it’s done manually or thru a software.

Always Keep the Client in the Loop

ConstructionThe client’s satisfaction is the main goal, and so this should be taken into consideration through the entire construction process. Clients, if possible should be given a walk-through of the project status at each construction stage so that they are aware of the project progress. It’s also a good opportunity to spot whatever things need fixing so it doesn’t all lump up in the end. 

What’s Included in A Punch List 

So, at this point, you know what a punch list is, and you know more or less who is involved and what happens in a pre-final walkthrough, but how does a construction punch list look like?  The format differs depending on the type of construction – there is a punch list for residential construction, punch list for new construction, there’s basic new construction punch lists, etc.

However, to help you out there are a lot of templates that are out there which can tell you exactly what to check, or there are even apps in the market that can digitize the punch list for you. But, as an example, let’s take a quick look at a punch list for new construction below which should basically give you an idea on how punch lists for other types of construction should look like.


  • Turn on and off all switches and fixtures
  • Plug a device into each outlet to check if it is working
  • Test the doorbell
  • Check that heavy duty lines exist where it is needed

Heating and Cooling

  • Raise and lower thermostat to ensure that it is functioning properly
  • Allow heat to run and shut off automatically
  • Check A/C to run and shut off automatically
  • Locate cold air returns and check for proper placement


  • Inspect all glass for breaks and cracks
  • Open and close all windows
  • Check that screens are in good condition
  • Check the hardware, locks, and hinges


Inspect cabinetry fixtures and finishes

  • Inspect cabinetry fixtures and finishes
  • Inspect countertops for cracks and scratches
  • Check cabinets for sturdy shelving and hinges
  • Check drawers for smooth opening and closing

Exterior, Porches, and Decks

  • Check siding and brick for condition and even coverage
  • Check gutters, downspouts and drainage areas
  • Check sidewalks, porch and patio floors for cracks
  • Ensure sturdiness of all railings

Walk through Tips for Home Owners

So far, we’ve talked about punch list in the commercial construction setting. But, if you’re a homeowner, can you still benefit from a punch list? The answer is a resounding yes!  The process would be more or less the same. You as the homeowner will do a walk through around your property with your contractor or architect to check if everything is in order and make lists of the things that don’t conform to specifications. If you’re a new homeowner and is inspecting your new house for the first time, here are some tips that can help you out.

  • Bring the Construction Plans. Bringing the construction plans can be a handy reference if you feel unsure if the work matches with the contract agreement.
  • Use Color Tape. Mark punch list areas with color tape so that they stand out and your contractor can have an easy visual reference. This can also serve as a mark to let you know that you’ve passed thru a certain area.
  • Bring A Friend. Bring someone that you can trust because it can be nerve-wracking having to do it for the first time, and, having a second pair of eyes with you will make sure that you have all the areas covered.
  • Take Your Time. Understandably,it’s going to be super exciting going thru your dream house, but resist the temptation to go thru all the rooms in a hurry. Be sure to inspect all the installations as well as the details ( for example if the doors close and open properly)
  • Take Notes. Bring a notepad, or a tablet and write down the things that you think are possible issues and any information that is useful to you and your contractor.
  • Establish a Timeline.Make sure that you are clear on the deadline that you want the work to be finished. Work together with your contractor to set a timeline that will suit everyone’s schedule. And to make things even clearer, make sure that you get these things in writing so that there will be no misunderstanding in the future 

Suggestions on How To Improve the Punch List Process

Making a punch list sounds fairly simple – walk through the area and make a list. But, if you’re a contractor doing the pre-final walk thru with a client, especially for a big construction project that cost a lot of money, it can be a daunting experience. To ease your nervousness, experienced contractors use the following techniques below to make the punch list experience more pleasant and streamlined. 

  1. Use Technology to Your Advantage

Use Technology to Your AdvantageThe modern term punch list that we are familiar today had its origins from the practice of literally punching holes on a list of things that needed to be fixed. This practice started what we now know as punch list in construction. Now people use databases like excel to track punch lists, but, this method is still a bit inefficient, and is slowly being replaced by punch list software packages that can be either a stand-alone solution or is part of a bigger construction project management software.

Because there’s a lot of available punch list software out there that can help you, you want to get one that is simple to use, has mobile features with the offline capability (just in case you lose signal), and has cloud storage.  But, even if the software is simple, it still should have the following capabilities:

  • Add an issue with text, photos, assignees and due date
  • Generate pdf reports and observation lists
  • Has the ability to draw on photos and PDF plans
  • Can export/import from other programs
  • Has the ability to sign off the punch list even in the field
  • Can auto number items and reports

One of the software that you might want to look at is Procore. This software allows you to create defect list items directly from the field – or even offline and allows you to filter the tasks by status ( unresolved, resolved, open or closed). This can help you streamline your punch list status to make it easier and faster.

  1. Do A Reconnaissance 

Think of the punch list meeting as going on a very important date with someone that you really like. And like with every date, you want it to be successful. And you can do this by checking the site beforehand. Be proactive, and go to the site, with a potential list in hand, read over the construction specifications, find (and repair) any deficiencies.

By doing this, you can get a mental overview of what’s completely finished and what things might be subject to discussion during the meeting.  You’ll also be able to foreseesnags and questions which can all contribute to making you feel self-confident for the punch list meeting.

  1. Bring an Assistant 

On the day of the punch list meeting, do your best to arrive early. Never undervalue the power of arriving early and being there before everybody else. In addition to the mental edge that you need to feel in control of the situation, you’ll also be calm, poised and ready when everyone arrives.

Don’t forget to bring an assistant who should also arrive early with you on the day of the punch list meeting. Having someone to help you is especially helpful when you are punching very big projects.

Punch list meetings stressful from the beginning, and even if you did all the preparations correctly prior to the big event, there will be stressful issues that you might encounter. And we all know that with stress, there could be poor reasoning that can result in you making promises that you might later regret making.

Your number two’s job is to take repetitive tasks like photos, notes and holding documents while listening and observing so that you can take the lead role and focus all your energy interacting and answering your client’s concerns.

If you and your assistant know and do your roles well, you can both come out of the punch list meeting in one piece, sanity intact, and with solid notes with the feeling that the meeting went extremely well.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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