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Construction Punch List Best Practices

Written by Marc Guberti

Marc Guberti is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor who has been a finance freelance writer
for five years. He has covered personal finance, investing, banking, credit cards, business
financing, and other topics.
Marc’s work has appeared in US News & World Report, USA Today, Investor Place, and other
publications. He graduated from Fordham University with a finance degree and resides in
Scarsdale, New York.
When he’s not writing, Marc enjoys spending time with the family and watching movies with
them (mostly from the 1930s and 40s). Marc is an avid runner who aims to run over 100
marathons in his lifetime.

Updated May 29, 2023​

4 min. read​

construction punch list

Contractors and their teams have to accomplish many tasks before finishing a project. As a project nears completion, a contractor will create a punch list. This list helps workers focus on the few remaining tasks and visualize the end of the journey. A construction punch list, also known as a snag list, can stimulate productivity and ensure the client is happy with the final construction. We will cover some best practices when crafting a construction list.

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What Is a Construction Punch List and How Does It Work?

A construction punch list is a checklist of remaining tasks. Your team must complete these tasks before subcontractors and workers can receive their final payments for the project. Receiving these payments sooner helps subcontractors and workers transition to the next project sooner. Contractors and project owners discuss the remaining tasks and agree to the punch list. Contractors may also create a late-stage checklist as the project approaches completion.

What Is Usually Included in a Construction Punch List?

An inspector will review the construction as it nears completion. The inspector may report issues that appear on the construction punch list. You should include the following emails for each item listed on the construction punch list:

  • Location: A nearly completed building is a large structure. All parties should know the locations of structural issues within the building so it’s easier to make adjustments.
  • Tier: A top-tier issue needs immediate attention, while a low-tier issue can get addressed later. Rank each punch list item by its significance.
  • Description: Each punch list item should receive a description explaining the issue and how to remediate it. The description should also assign roles to subcontractors and workers.
  • Deadlines: Approaching deadlines lead to more productivity and moves you closer to a completed project. Make sure you establish a reasonable deadline that matches the client’s expectations.
  • Task Status: Check off a punch list item after you complete it. Checking off these items helps you stay organized and focus on the remaining issues.

Why Should You Use a Construction Punch List?

A construction punch list visualizes your path to the finish line. You know which tasks remain and can check them off as you make progress. A construction punch list keeps everyone on the same page. Strong communication during a construction punch list’s implementation minimizes mistakes and enhances productivity. A construction punch list can also clarify if you need short-term financing for materials and other costs. Short-term funding provides the necessary resources while you wait for the next or final payment.

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Who’s Responsible for a Construction Punch List?

Every stakeholder is responsible for a construction punch list, but some have more responsibilities than others. Responsibilities also depend on the project’s arrangement and group members.

Project Owner

The project owner reviews the construction punch list and offers feedback. Some project owners approve the list or make suggestions. Some project owners examine the construction with an inspector to detect any mistakes.

General Contractor

The general contractor creates the construction punch list and assesses financing needs. Some project owners contribute to this process, but most clients prefer the general contractor to produce the first draft. Then, the general contractor lists the remaining tasks and deadlines.


The general contractor assigns the remaining tasks to subcontractors. Subcontractors are responsible for getting the work done before the deadline.

Architects and Designers

Architects and designers will review punch list drawings and ensure they match the construction site. Architects and designers will reach out with any concerns. Wait for the architects and designers to approve the drawings before proceeding.

Best Practices for Using a Construction Punch List

A construction punch list aligns all stakeholders with common goals. These best practices will help you get the most out of a construction punch list.

Formalize the Process

Document every task instead of keeping it informal. A formalized process increases productivity and provides more clarity. Give project managers checklists to manage the pre-inspection and corresponding punch list. Document roles across each team and have them keep records of their progress.

Know Your Project’s Priorities

Rank your tasks based on importance and tackle high-priority tasks first. Knowing the order of tasks keeps everyone on the same page. This process minimizes mistakes and increases productivity.

Get Everything Documented

Clearly document every detail from the pre-inspection. Effective documentation explains issues and shows you how to resolve them. Conversely, any vague information can cause frustration among workers and lead to bottlenecks.

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Delegate Tasks and Deadlines Clearly

Construction projects require many people to work together. Assigning tasks to specific project teams leaves little ambiguity about roles and responsibilities. General contractors should also establish clear deadlines to measure progress and reach the finish line.

Monitor Progress Periodically

Regularly checking in with subcontractors on punch list items will give you more insights into the project’s direction. You should also stay in constant touch with the project owner in case any new changes get requested. Staying on top of the punch list more often allows you to make real-time adjustments to challenges, feedback, and requests.

Use Technology (If Available)

Technology simplifies our lives and can speed up construction projects. You can share the punch list as a digital file to make it more accessible. Subcontractors can check their devices to monitor progress instead of looking for a piece of paper. Contractors can check off items through their devices and send push notifications to workers about new progress. This process reduces the number of follow-ups and provides workers with real-time information about the nature of the project.

Have A Feedback Mechanism

Feedback gives workers the opportunity to share what is happening at the site. You can discover what is working effectively and carry those best practices to future projects. Workers will also share their frustrations and expose bottlenecks. The feedback mechanism reveals strengths and weaknesses. It provides insights that can optimize the workplace, solve flaws, and lead to quicker completion times.

How to Improve Other Construction Processes, Like Material Ordering and Financing

Contractors seek every possible optimization to improve workflow and decrease wasted hours and resources. A construction punch list unifies everyone as project teams make a collective final push towards the finish line. Contractors complete several steps before reaching the punch list phase. You have to build the right connections, attract clients, and learn lessons from each project.

The construction industry is notorious for its tight cash flow. You will have to operate narrow profit margins as you work on each project. Short-term cash flow delays can stall a project and limit your ability to take on additional work. Receiving extra cash for material costs can help you in these situations.

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