PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog
punch list management tips

6 Strategies to Get to Zero Punch List Faster

Expert Tips for Punch List Management

Punch lists are the tried-and-true way to close out all construction project. They are essential documents, but they can create major obstacles for teams if they are not managed correctly.

Nevertheless, when used to their full potential, punch lists can contribute to every team’s goal: to get to project closeout faster. With the right punch list management, your team can achieve a zero punch list, a clean project handoff and best of all, a happy owner.

But how do teams get to cross off the last punch list item before everyone has officially tapped out? The key to getting to punch list zero faster is in how you design and manage your punch lists. Below, we’ll take a look at 6 winning strategies to take punch list management to the next level.

1. Don’t Wait Until the End

Generally, the punch list isn’t created until after the walkthrough is complete. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that punch lists need to be created towards the very end of a project. Instead, it works better to start generating a punch list earlier on in the project as a regular check in on construction quality.

Think about using a punch list format right from the kickoff of the project. When implemented at the start, punch lists can be used to create workflow and standards for starting the project on the right foot. They ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what needs to be done at every stage of the project. They even go a step further and make sure that everyone knows which items on the punch list they are accountable for well before project closeout.

It’s smart to design a rolling punch list that adapts to the project as it unfolds. This model includes consistently checking work duties during the entire project. Each task should be assigned with a specific closeout schedule for every task.

Laying out the many aspects of the project also shows whether there are holes in the project specifications or contract that need to be addressed. During the project, you should consistently meet with the project owner or stakeholders to know what needs to be done before handoff and to ensure all their specifications and project requirements are being met.

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2. Implement Regular Inspections

Conducting regular inspections, or “punch walks,” will support your goal of getting to a zero punch list faster. One thing that crucially delays projects in the closeout stage is inferior construction quality. But a crucial aspect to remember is that quality should be built in, not an afterthought at the end of a project. When you have standards and quality checks along the way, you reduce the need for expensive rework and delays at the end of the project.

Even using a punch list format for your inspections is a fantastic way to align your team on quality throughout construction. A punch list structure fits the goal of quality control well. Its checklist nature is perfect for giving quick oversight as well as documenting exactly what needs to be fixed and whether it has been completed.

To carry out this punch list management strategy, it’s wise to create a specific list that addresses safety and quality measures that can be reviewed during jobsite visits. If possible, it helps to involve a wide-range of team members from the general contractor, designer and even owner to make sure all aspects of the project are being done to expectations.

3. Move Into the Future With Cloud-Based Punch List Management

Punch lists have long been relied on in the construction industry, yet they are starting to evolve to fit modern times. The days of paper punch lists are over–or at least they should be. Paper creates massive inefficiencies and leaves construction team’s open to more risk and errors. If your company wants to be at the top of your game, it’s time to embrace cloud technology for punch list management.

Identify punch list technology that will keep your team on track and enable you to easily check off and track issues directly from the field. One option is adopting construction collaboration technology that is powered by the cloud. Technology will be even more powerful if it is made for mobile devices so that team members can easily track and use from their smartphones and tablets.

Punch list technology can enable real-time communication even when team members are in different locations. Rather than wait to receive paper lists, the entire team can stay on top of task completions when they happen. All in all, this helps ensure a faster and more efficient punch list management.

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4. Clear Assignment of Items on the Punch List

Ownership and accountability are critical concepts in effective construction management. As mentioned, it’s essential to create a punch list that you implement early on in a project. But the punch list won’t streamline or guide your project if no one knows what they’re responsible for. That’s why it’s essential to assign items to specific people or teams and to make sure accountability is built into the punch list management process.

In this area, technology helps to streamline the process. Apps and software, like PlanGrid, are available to allow you to assign, alert and track people for what specific items they are accountable for. These programs also increase visibility so everyone else on the team can see who’s responsible if any questions arise. This method helps keep everyone on the same page and holds people responsible for their tasks.

To employ this strategy for your team, give each person the appropriate details he needs, including the due date for completion of each task. If required, liability can be included in the contract in case a particular party does not complete their end of the bargain.

Concerning overall punch list management, an experienced team member should be the one to create and manage the administration of the list as this is a vital component to project success. This person should thoroughly understand the scope and magnitude of the work. They should know which tasks are needed to get done and who to assign to each one. They should have the relationships to get the job done and have the authority to resolve problems on their own as they arise. You should empower this person and let them know you trust them while getting across the importance of the job.

5. Set a Budget for the Punch List

A central goal of every project is to avoid exceeding the budget. But often, budgets overruns occur when just trying to close out the project. Alternatively, setting a budget for the punch list in advance can be a helpful tactic keep a project on budget. It also helps advance punch lists faster because there are fewer questions about where the money needs to come from to complete. Of course, setting up this budget as part of the initial project allocation is most effective.

Overall, the benefits of setting up a budget for the punch list in advance include:

  • Prevents scrambling and cutting corners at the end from trying to make ends meet
  • Reduces internal conflicts over separate budgets
  • Allows teams to move faster toward completion
  • Makes it easier to handle setbacks as they occur and shift course

6. Be Flexible and Open to Feedback

You may feel a great sense of relief when you check off the final item on your punch list. But don’t get too comfortable until everyone agrees that the project is complete. When you are sure that the job is done, you might find that the owner, architect or another member of the project team has other thoughts.

If this happens, don’t take the feedback personally. Be flexible and handle the changes or issues professionally. Work to resolve them efficiently and make sure every team member is satisfied. In the long run, this tactic will be better for business. At the end of a project, a successful punch list is one of the biggest impressions you will leave. Within reason, don’t sacrifice your image and good name to stand your ground.

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Better Manage Your Way to Zero Punch List Today

The construction industry is evolving, and so should punch list strategies. Ultimately, the modern ideal is to eliminate the old-fashioned notion of the punch list. Outdated and inefficient management of punch lists doesn’t lead to customer satisfaction and can mean a scramble to complete a long list of unfinished tasks at the end of a project. By adapting the idea of a punch list as something to keep track of throughout the project, it can ensure that the project runs smoothly and everything on the list is finished by the end. The way to truly embrace this new method is to streamline punch list management by using new practices and technology like a punch list app.

Grace Ellis

As a Content Marketing Manager at PlanGrid, Grace is the managing editor for the PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog. With over eight years of experience in marketing, communications and PR for technology companies, she is specialized in high-quality content creation across both traditional and digital media platforms.