What is a Punch List and Why Does Your Project Need It?

What is a Punch List and Why Does Your Project Need It?

It’s opening day for your newest real estate development and you’ve got your investors there, along with community stakeholders and media. It’s your time to shine; the celebration of your hard work as a developer is finally paying off.

As you tour the building and site, the last thing you want to find are the mistakes and misses caused by a lack of coordination. If the project doesn’t look good, it reflects poorly on you and comes off as a big disappointment – even though you did your part flawlessly.

Fortunately there is a simple remedy for this kind of situation. The sometimes neglected, though critically important, punch list.

Punch List Checklist For Rooftop and Outdoor Living Experiences

Download this template to keep track of the most important punch list items at your rooftop deck or other outdoor amenity.

In the rush to complete a project, punch lists can either be poorly done or skipped altogether. After putting so much effort into a project, to leave off the last step, or not include everyone in the process, is a big mistake. Instead, do a thorough review of the project and make sure it reflects your hard work.

What is a punch list?

A punch list is a document listing work that does not conform to contract specifications. The general contractor takes the lead in creating this checklist. Whenever they notice a defect in construction, they’ll document it for discussion with the owner and specialty contractors.

Architects, designers, and engineers also play a part. They are responsible for ensuring that all the construction meets the approved specified drawings and will work as intended. The design team will add items to the punch list for the general contractor to address or for owner consideration.

What is a punch walk?

A punch walk is an essential step in delivering a successful project. It’s the review process where the contractor, subcontractors, owner, and architect/designer walk through the project together to catch all the remaining issues and flaws in the execution of the project. These items are then added to the punch list that the contractor must correct before turning over the project to the owners.

Punch walks generally happen once a project has reached substantial completion, or the point at which the owner, rather than the contractor, is responsible for the project. This is when the owner could occupy the building or use it for its intended use.

You’ll find it important to include your rooftop and outdoor amenity designer in this process. The more expert eyes you have on on the punch walk, the greater likelihood of catching all the most important deficiencies. With their experience, they can point out what is reasonable and what will make or break a project if it remains unchanged.

Consider these advantages of having designers take part in every punch walk.

Punch walks ensure quality.

The most obvious purpose of a punch walk is to ensure quality by catching all the small errors or deficiencies in craftsmanship. Your rooftop and outdoor amenity designer is invaluable at this point, because they know what each feature should look like. Having produced the construction details, they know the ins and outs of how each item comes together. But, they also have the understanding to point out acceptable alternatives produced by the contractor.

Designers will notice things that only they can identify. This will help you as the owner feel confident that each piece of the design was executed to the highest quality.

Punch walks help preserve design intent.

At the end of the day, some things are less important than others. The participation of a designer in punch walks is critical to a correct assessment of how well the construction meets the design intent. They can explain the reasoning behind major design decisions and clarify what is going to have the greatest impact.

Simply put, not every discrepancy is worth correcting. If the cost and time burden to correct an error outweighs the original intentions for a particular feature, it may be wise to leave it be. On the other hand, certain mistakes are non-negotiable. If it will make or break your project, your amenity designer will advocate for its correction. Professional designers are experts at translating your vision and goals into physical manifestations. Trust their input and they’ll help you navigate the punch list process.

Rolling Punch Lists: Facilitate Teamwork and Resolve Issues Earlier

Try implementing the rolling punch list to ease this collaborative process and wrap up sooner. A rolling punch list involves multiple punch walks at key intervals of a project to catch and correct as construction progresses. That way, the punch list items get completed in tandem with the rest of the project, instead of taking time at the end. This helps catch problems earlier and saves much time and money.

Punch walks shouldn’t be a combative process. Instead, they’re an opportunity for collaboration between the design and construction teams. The focus should be on providing the best service to the client and insuring that everyone met their commitments to you.

It’s very routine to face issues during the construction that weren’t anticipated by the designers. Real estate development projects are so complex it is impossible to plan perfectly for everything. However, it is possible to find creative solutions to these problems as they arise. So long as there is open communication between builder and architect.

The ideal collaborative relationship between contractor and designer occurs when both focus on finding solutions, rather than pointing fingers of blame. Each can inform the other and provide solutions from their unique perspective. As they work together as a team, the punch walk can be a very productive event, one that leads to superior project results.

Punch lists are a critical step in the development process. Be careful about neglecting them or rushing through them. Make sure to involve the right team members so that you can get the most out of the punch walk. With the right approach, punch lists ensure quality, preserve your vision, and resolve issues before they become major problems.