Level of detail while doing punch lists?


What level of detail would you go into while doing punch list?

Obviously conformance to the plans is a requirement but how "extra" would you go? Slight paint blemishes, squeaky door, chipped ACTs? 

Would you make the GC spend the extra time in correcting those "minor", fact of life, things? 

My opinion? Most of the time, the average home owner or user would not even notice so why sour your relationship with the GC in producing a "perfect product"?

Curious to see what the community's response to this is....

Sep 11, 21 8:16 pm

I wrestle with this. Especially when I am on punches with the boss and they point out shit I'd let slide. 

Sep 11, 21 10:04 pm  · 
1  · 
Non Sequitur

chipped ACT, or other finishes, get replaced. Any other defect gets addressed if I can notice it from about an arms length away. I don’t care about the GC’s feelings, the client is paying me after all. 

Sep 12, 21 7:49 am  · 
6  · 

Yup. I also call out paint flashing. I don't care if you have to repaint the entire wall.

Sep 13, 21 10:11 am  · 
2  · 

This is about how I am - if you're looking for more than 30 seconds at paint and can't find anything - it is fine.

Sep 13, 21 10:19 am  · 
4  · 
Wood Guy

Partly due to my first career being a carpenter/builder, I see every defect. I have done "perfect" work (i.e., perfect-looking) and know how much extra time and effort it takes vs. standard construction tolerances. In most cases I try to keep punch list items to fairly egregious errors. But I prefer to work with builders who don't need much oversight. 

Sep 12, 21 8:51 am  · 
2  · 

The line I use quite often during a punch walk is 'why does this [ ]  look like I did it?'  By that, I mean my expectations are that the quality of finished product should look like a qualified expert installed it.  If the caulking looks like the time my dad sealed up the bathtub or the painting could have very well been completed by my 1st grader, then it gets called out and redone.  

I will say, my tolerance has increased over the years.  When I first started, I was pedantic about every stupid detail.  I remember a sage PM pulling me aside one time to say, ' construction is not an exact science.  your drawings aren't perfect, and neither is the finished product.  learn to live with (and even appreciate) the subtle tolerances of the trades.'

Sep 13, 21 10:42 am  · 
2  · 

Definitely paint blemishes and squeaky doors / door hardware that needs to be rebalanced- these, along with caulk and final clean stuff, are probably our most common punch list items. I've never had a GC push back on this either; touching up paint is pretty easy as far as all things go (even if you have to repaint a wall), and it seems more often than not on the projects I work on they are calling for a punch walk before they have done final touch up anyway.  Individual paint blemishes don't typically end up on the punch list unless they are egregious or really large; I just make one list item for all.  I walk with painter's tape and tag them as I go, even the minor scuffs that probably happened because of loading in stuff.  The level of detail for a punch list is definitely dependent on the project type and size.  I am less critical of utility / back of house areas and more critical of public facing areas for appearance imperfections.  We are pretty involved in CA and do intermediate 'punch' type field reports during construction (i.e. review brick work after brick work is done, tiling after tiling is done, etc), so we've never had anything super wild at punch that was non-conforming.  We were contracted by an out of state firm to help with CA & punch on their high end residential high rise; most of the drywall was specced to level 5 finish.  Each paint blemish or drywall imperfection in that case goes on the punch list.

Sep 18, 21 9:27 am  · 

For our jobs the client heavily controls the level of punch and my team adjusts.  Separately though, I've had plenty of contractors try to define blemish/paintdrip/etc problems and even dig out other people's specs (not mine) showing rules of thumb like "visible from 10' away"... I always like to say I guess my eyes are better than theirs.  TL:DR, I'm known as 'punch-heavy' but I'm pretty consistent and I often preempt my concerns before punch.  I'll pre-punch a room for instance for quality.

Oh, and separately, if I have to walk on your job with a hardhat/floor on, I'm not punching.  If you think you're not done "but ignore these things" I'm not punching.

Sep 18, 21 9:38 am  · 
atelier nobody

If I see it, it goes on the list.

On the other hand, there's a limit on how much time I'm spending on a punch walk, so there's a corresponding limit on how much I'm going to see.

Sep 20, 21 11:50 pm  · 

Fun quiz:

Whose responsibility is the punch list?

Sep 21, 21 11:16 am  · 
1  · 

lol, I had started drafting the post below before you posted this ... then I got sidetracked by a phone call and came back to it.

Sep 21, 21 12:33 pm  · 
1  · 

This is pedantic, and maybe something we all know but simply let slip in normal conversation, but I wish we'd stop referring to the architect as "doing" the punch list. "Doing" the punch list is the contractor's responsibility and "making an inspection to determine substantial completion" is the architect's responsibility. If the inspection reveals additional items need to be added to the punch list, they should be added. If partway through the inspection we can tell the list is obviously incomplete, I wish we'd stop the inspection, and tell them to resubmit the list when they've made a better attempt (i.e. not do their job for them). Our purpose with the punch list is to determine whether the project is substantially complete, not to do the contractor's work for them in determining what is incomplete and adding it to the list.

As for the level of detail to be included on the list, I think it's first important to point out that whether or not the contractor includes something on the list, it doesn't relieve the contractor of their responsibility to complete the work in accordance with the contract documents. Check the project's general conditions for the language.

So I probably don't need to get nit picky with minor blemishes, etc. but they should still be taken care of before final completion and payment. I can still deny final completion if something doesn't comply with the documents and it doesn't show up on the punch list. If there is enough of a type of minor blemish, I'd ask it to be added to the list as a catch all. Something like "correct paint blemishes throughout." But even one or two paint blemishes are are still covered under my painting specification where it indicates that they are to apply paint without defects, and they are to protect the work from damage during construction and to correct damage and leave the project in an undamaged condition. 

For me, the goal in receiving the contractor's punch list and reviewing it is for the architect to make sure the contractor is generally aware of the items that aren't complete and to determine whether it reflects a project that is substantially complete. The goal *should not* be that we put forth a bunch of effort to make an exhaustive list of everything the contractor must finish in order to be finished with the job. There is probably a correlation with the level of detail on the punch list and how much the contractor will hold you to the list and only the list when trying to get you to sign off on the final application for payment.

Also check your specifications for scheduling requirements and see if there is a maximum time frame indicated for completing the punch list and final completion. For most projects we'd put this at 30 days. It could be more or less depending on the project. If there are things on the punch list that will take longer than that to complete ... I would say the project is not substantially complete (though I might agree to an exception under certain circumstances).

Sep 21, 21 12:31 pm  · 
Non Sequitur

maybe I'm not used to the terms but for me, a punch list is what the GC produces and distributes to the trades AFTER my deficiency review. My review will identify certain conditions and installations which do not comply with the drawings/code/specifications, but I for sure ain't documenting every crooked trim and scuffed ceiling tile. I see more than 2 example, it gets noted as a typical deficiency.

Sep 21, 21 12:51 pm  · 

If we make a list for them and they complete the list, they have more ammunition when the inevitable "why are you holding my retainage?" fight occurs.

Sep 21, 21 12:57 pm  · 

NS, I'm not sure how project closeout is usually run up north of the border ... you might have different general conditions requiring a different approach. I'm basing my post off of an assumption of using AIA A201 (or something similar) for the contract. A201 notes that when the contractor considers the work is substantially complete they shall prepare and submit to the architect a "comprehensive list of items to be completed or corrected prior to final payment." The architect upon receipt of the list will "make an inspection to determine whether the Work ... is substantially complete."

To SP's point, contrary to how it is used in practice, there really isn't any language that indicates the list of incomplete items (aka punch list) is to be used as a basis for determining final completion (i.e. finish everything on this list and you're done). It is really intended (based on the standard language ... your project's language might be different) to be used as a gauge for determining whether the work is substantially complete (i.e. you've indicated work that is incomplete that will prevent the owner from using the project as intended. It should be completed before we can certify substantial completion). There is sometimes language included in the Div 01 section for closeout procedures that one of the submittals prior to final completion is a certified punch list indicating that all items have been completed, but that doesn't necessarily conclude that everything incomplete is on the list and that simply completing the list, and attesting to it, is sufficient evidence that the work is finally complete. Rather A201 does spell out that "failure to include an item on [the punch list] does not alter the responsibility of the Contractor to complete all Work in accordance with the Contract Documents."

Sep 21, 21 1:36 pm  · 
1  · 

Ah, nuance: loved by lawyers, ignored by everyone else.

Sep 21, 21 1:46 pm  · 

Hopefully in this case we'd love the nuance as well because it saves us time and effort (i.e. fee) during project closeout. Add this to the long list of things we let the contractor get away with that saves them money at our expense.

Sep 21, 21 3:12 pm  · 
1  · 

These days, my punching is frequently involving blue tape and a contractor intern following me around putting it into bluebeam/procore/etc. I think that meets your definition

Sep 21, 21 3:18 pm  · 

^ joseffischer gets it

Sep 21, 21 3:22 pm  · 

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