What is a Punch List and How Do Contractors Use One?


When a construction project is coming to an end, the punch list or a snag list as it is known in the UK usually makes its entrance. But what is a punch list? A punch list in the construction industry is defined as a list of repairs and incomplete work items that remain at the end of a project that must be finished before the construction is considered finished and the final payment can be made.

In the construction punch list process, contractors can create their own punch list for residential construction or commercial project, or homeowners can also provide a punch list for residential construction or a basic new construction punch list if they are remodeling a house or putting up a new one.

But what exactly goes on in a construction punch list process, and how exactly does it work? Let’s find out in this article.

How Does It Work?

When a construction project nears the end, the general contractor will usually arrange for the pre-final walkthrough of the construction project with the owner as well as the architect to check if there are any items that don’t conform to the contract.

Although it’s not exactly known exactly where the term “punch list” as we know it today originated from, it is believed that it goes back in the old days, when it meant literally meant punching a hole next to an item to indicate that it has been done. Nowadays, a punch list can be done manually, inputting it through a spreadsheet or construction software with punch list module, or even with an app on your phone.

The punch list is considered completed when the items listed have been worked on and is conforming to the specifications as indicated in the contract, and the owner has signed off on it.

Who Are the People Involved?


The owner is the most important player in the punch list process whether it be a residential punch list, an old construction punch list or a commercial punch list, the owner bears the responsibility to be fully attentive of the progress of the construction project as well as the issues that need to be addressed.

Owners or their representatives are required to be present during the pre-final project walkthrough in order for them to be aware of the issues that need to be addressed prior to project completion. This is important because owners who are involved also save themselves from unnecessary costs and headaches that are caused by project reworks and revisions that can be addressed through a thorough punch list.


The contractor is the one responsible for the pre-construction walk thru. As a formality, the contractor will send a message to the owner informing them that the construction project is nearing completion, and a construction walk-through will happen. At this point, the owner or the owner representative is invited to a pre-final walk-through. It is at also at this point that the contractor comes up with a list of items that are pending completion or need to be revised and fixed to present to the owner as well as other additional items that might be found during the walk-through.


Architects are also present during the punch list process, although their role is small in this process. As the designer of the project, the architect should be able to see right away which aspects of the project do not coincide with that of the blueprint.


While the owner can be considered as the most important person in the punch list process, the subcontractors are the muscle behind the punch list. Ultimately it falls to the shoulders of the subcontractors to make sure that the items on the punch list are done.

The contractor will usually give a specific time frame to the subcontractor to finish the punch list, and the subcontractor has to work within a schedule to accomplish the job. That’s why communication plays a big part to make sure that the contractor and the subcontractor are on the same page with regards to the items found in the punch list.

Ali Dino
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