Top 8 reasons why you need a punch list app

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Article

A broken window, water leakage, and leftover debris are some of the common problems found on construction sites before the handover. No project is perfect.

It is inevitable that touch-ups and repairs are required along the way. However, every project needs to come to an end. The construction punch list should start when the project reaches substantial completion.

A walk-through with the owner, contractor, and other stakeholders, is necessary in order to create a punch list. Also known as a defect list, snag list, or closeout punch list, every out of specification defect needs to be addressed before the product can be handed over to the client.

Ultimately, the goal of all construction projects is to close out all items on their punch lists as quickly as possible. Once this occurs and has been agreed upon, the works can then be finally completed and handed over to the owner.

What is a construction punch list?

A punch list (also called snag list, deficiency list, defect list or punch-out list) is a list of to-dos that needs to be completed before a construction project is completed.

Did you know that the term punch list comes from the antiquated process of punching holes in a list to mark which items needed fixing?

In regard to construction contracts, Thomson Reuters defines a punch list as “a list of minor work the contractor must do after a project is mostly completed. The completion of the punch list items (unless the parties otherwise agree) is necessary for final payment and completion to occur. Many construction contracts hold back a certain amount from the contractor’s fee until all items on the punch list have been completed to the satisfaction of the owner or its independent engineer.”

Contents of a punch list

It includes a list of items that do not conform to contract specifications, usually attached to the certificate of substantial completion. A punch list template can also include specifications on damages to other materials or items that occurred during construction and must be fixed. It may also include incorrect installations or aspects of the project that do not function as promised.

Typically, punch lists only include small fixes, because most large issues have already been corrected or addressed previously through a change order or non-conformance reports (NCRs). Usually there are, however, a large volume of minor issues to be addressed and the handover process takes a considerable amount of time and resources to complete the works.

Managing a punch list: roles and responsibilities

Project organisations may vary, but overall, the following applies to managing punch lists:

Project owner: The owner – with its own team or through a third party – typically inspects the work, asks questions about anything unclear, and lists any work that is unfinished or incorrect. They then give the general contractor the punch list and schedule another walkthrough to verify that the requests have been addressed.

General contractor: The general contractor reviews the owner’s punch list, creates their own to-do lists for subcontractors, and ensures all key project information and activities are in order. They develop an action plan for the subcontractors to resolve the fixes and make the necessary corrections.

Subcontractors:  The subcontractors are responsible for completing the items on the list assigned by the general contractor. Each subcontractor must follow up on and update changes so everything is reflected correctly in the final checklist. They must also be able to explain each repair and, if needed, why it was not made according to specifications.

Architects and designers: The architects and designers ensure that the project is designed and completed according to the original contract specifications. They are typically not involved in small rectifications but may need to approve more complex issues before the rectification can start.

After creating a punch list, time is set aside for repairs, and another walkthrough with both the general contractor and owner is arranged. Ideally, no new items are found on the list, and everything else has been addressed. However, the project owner must sign off on the punch list before the work can be considered finished.

Best practices

Start early: Begin the punch list early in the project, adding tasks as sections are completed. Fixing issues early typically avoids delays at the end.

Conduct regular inspections: Perform periodic quality controls throughout the project to ensure high-quality work. Use the punch list format for inspections to meet quality standards.

Assign responsibilities: Assign each job on the punch list to a specific team member with clear deadlines. Ensure that all project managers know their responsibilities and timelines to keep the project on track. Ownership and accountability are crucial.

Maintain clear communication: Keep open lines of communication between all parties involved. Regular updates and feedback can prevent misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Prioritise tasks: Categorise and prioritise tasks on the punch list based on urgency and importance. This helps in addressing the most critical issues first and ensures that nothing essential is overlooked.

Use a punch list app: Choose a construction punch list app that keeps your team on schedule and allows easy tracking of issues from the field. A mobile-friendly, cloud-based solution is ideal for team access via tablets and smartphones.

Looking for a punch list app?

Top 8 reasons why you need a punch list app

  1. Improved team productivity: A punch list app helps keep all tasks organised in one place, making it easier to manage and track issues.
  2. Real-time updates: Team members can update the due dates and status of tasks in real-time, ensuring everyone is on the same page and reducing delays.
  3. Enhanced communication: The app facilitates clear and instant communication between all parties involved, preventing misunderstandings and ensuring smooth project flow.
  4. Increased accountability: Assigning tasks to specific team members within the app ensures ownership and accountability, making it clear who is responsible for each job.
  5. Easier contract management: The app provides a centralised location for all documentation related to the punch list, making it easy to reference past actions and decisions related to contractual obligations.
  6. Reduced litigation risks: All inputs, digital signatures, and logs can be saved and audited in case of disputes.
  7. Reduced costs: By streamlining the punch list process, the app helps save time and reduce cost associated with managing and closing out construction projects.
  8. Speed up project handover: With better communication and collaboration, rework can be done faster and more efficiently, reducing risks for delays at the end of the project.

“Adopting a digital tool really helps in terms of time, paperwork and coordination with the main contractor.”

– Steven Tiau, Resident Engineer, CEL Development

Adopt a punch list app today

Adopting a punch list app can make a difference in your project. It’s important to select a mobile app that is easy to use, available on any mobile device, works in offline mode, can be configured with punch list templates to match the way you work, and allows different user rights. The data you collect in the field can also provide great insights. Make sure the punch list software comes with comprehensive dashboards and powerful analytic capabilities. Also, consider how to drive the change: bringing transparency and accountability is not always welcomed by everyone. It’s crucial to manage this transition effectively.

Novade is one of the most popular punch list management software in the market, adopted by the largest real estate developers and general contractors worldwide. Novade also provides consultants and experts who can help you successfully digitise your field processes and achieve your goals.

Interested to learn more about the Novade punch list app?

About Sanjay Kewlani

Sanjay leads the product team at Novade. He has 25 years’ experience in the fields of architecture. His deep industry knowledge and practical know-how have established him as a recognised authority in digital solutions implementation in the construction industry.

About Novade

Novade is the market leader for the digitisation of field processes. Every day, clients around the world rely on Novade construction management software to manage quality assurance, safety compliance and track progress on their projects


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