Project Handover

Everything to know about Construction Punch Lists

Punch lists are an essential part of the construction process. This guide will walk you through the ins and outs of the punch list process and how you can improve it at your firm!


First, what is a punch list in construction?

In construction, a punch list is a list of work that needs to be fixed before the project is finished. This is the final QA/QC gate before a building is ready for occupancy. Punch lists are typically generated during a final inspection of a project.



In some regions, a punch list may also be known as a snag list. Although the terminology differs, the concept remains consistent: a compilation of tasks requiring resolution before project completion. Most importantly: a contractor must complete or correct these items before they receive final payment.

The project closeout process is a team effort


In addition to the general contractor and owner, architects, engineers, and other stakeholders may be involved. For instance in a commercial property application, a tenant may be an interested party to signing off on the work.

During the inspection, the stakeholder team identifies any defects, incomplete work, or unresolved issues. This information is used to create a list of corrective actions.

Punch list items are typically minor tasks identified as non-conforming with the contract specifications. Items functional or qualitative in nature. They may range from minor aesthetic concerns to significant structural issues. This document listing "work that does not conform" acts as a final checklist for the builder or contractor.

What does a punch list typically contain?

Items to Test, Add, and Fix.


A punch list for a new factory will be different from one for a small residential construction project. Common items to test will fall in the following categories:

  • Doors
  • Windows
  • HVAC
  • Mechanical
  • Plumbing
  • Appliances
  • Installed Equipment

Examples of items to fix will likewise vary. Here are some common examples

  • The wrong (a non energy efficient) window was installed.
  • A light switch does not work.
  • A wall socket was not hooked up.

Here are some examples of items that may need to be added:

  • A sink needs caulking applied.
  • Paint needs to be touched up in an area.
  • A fixture does not match the others or is missing a cover.

However, you don't need to conduct an inspection to be proactive!

Rolling Punch Lists

A rolling punch list addresses issues as they arise in a project, rather than at the end. This approach allows for immediate resolution of problems. This strategy can help you reduce the size of the final list. This allows for faster project closeout and handover.


Punch list templates serve as essential guides for creating effective and comprehensive lists. These templates provide a standardized format, helping ensure that all relevant details are captured according to your firm's internal best practices.

What should contractors and builders know about the punch list process?

Punch list items are not only crucial to ensure the building's readiness for occupancy. Remember, they're also a contractual step preceding final payment. Often, an owner witholds retainage payments pending the completion of punch list tasks.

General contractors play the central role in addressing punch list items. Even if the work has been subcontracted, the GC is the responsible party for coordinating any needed remedies.


When contractors judge the project to have reached the substantial completion phase, they might initiate a "pre-final" inspection. Ideally, the necessary punch list work will be minimal, paving the way for swift final completion and subsequent payment.

What should architects and engineers know about the punch list process?


You are typically acting as an agent for the owner during this process. It's important to put yourself in the owner's position. Is the building ready for occupancy? Your reputation ultimately rests on the quality work of a third party.

Conclusion: Each project has its own set of challenges. Using a collaborative punch list tool with built in templates can help everyone involved understand the final steps required to complete the project faster.

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