Punch List: Definition, Form & Construction

Instructor: Stephanie Przybylek

Stephanie has taught studio art and art history classes to audiences of all ages. She holds a master's degree in Art History.

In the construction trade, a punch list is part of a process architects and builders use as a construction project is nearing completion. In this lesson, learn what a punch list is and how it is created.

What is a Punch List?

What comes to your mind when you hear the term punch list? No, it isn't a list of people whom you would like to hit! But that was a good guess! A punch list is a written inventory of details and tasks that must be completed before a construction project is considered done. It is part of a specific process and is often an official document. During a long construction project that might take months or several years (think of building a skyscraper), small details can sometimes be missed, like individual electrical figures or the fine finish on a door handle. These might seem like trivial things, but when someone is paying for a new building, they want everything to be corrected and finished completely. A punch list is a means of ensuring nothing is left undone. The term is often used in the building and construction trades, although it can also be used in more general project management. It is created in the form of an itemized list that is checked off after a thorough review near the end of a construction project.

Basic Method of Creating a Punch List

Compiling a punch list almost always involves a walk-around of the building or site under construction by all parties involved. Such meetings can include a number of people, from the architect to the builder, contractor, subcontractors and property owners. As they examine every inch of the site, they discuss all details that need to be done, and their list may include everything from paint finishes, hardware details, redoing edges and siding, etc., to clearing and removing debris from the property. Nothing is too small, as this is the final part of a process before everyone gets paid and the project is considered completed.

Other Methods

While creating an itemized list is the most common form builders use to compile a punch list, there are other ways of organizing the process and documenting required tasks. Sometimes builders use a floor plan, carefully numbering items in each room that must be done and organizing those tasks on a copy of the plan. A punch list can also be done using a room plan, where each room is printed on its own page, along with specific numbered elements to be addressed, corrected or completed. Whatever method is used, the goal is the same: the careful, methodical completion of any last minute errors and unfinished details.

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