At some point every project must come to an end. When it does, it’s not enough to simply watch it fade away through the rearview mirror. Finally, you must make sure all the i’s have been dotted and all the t’s have been crossed. For the most part, a construction punch list ensures full completion of the project.

What Is a Punch List?

A punch list is a document showing any work that still needs to be as part of a construction project. The list contains items needing immediate attention, items that do not conform to contract specification, or items not meeting specific codes. The list may also include repairs needed to other parts of a project damaged in the construction process. Finally, and importantly, it includes items that were not installed correctly or do not work the way they should.

Typically, most of the items on a punch list are minor tasks because the contractor corrects larger issues as time passes. It is when the construction is nearly complete. An ethical and diligent general contractor offers the owner this punch list and agrees that final payment comes once the contractor addresses the changes and corrections.

The term punch list originally referred to the lists that were actually punched with a hole punch. Today many contractors, general contractors, as well as sub-contractors use online tools and technology to create a such a list.

What Happens with the Punch List?

After a contractor creates a punch list, the next step is a walkthrough. The client walks with the contractor through the project and points out any concerns or issues they see. Often the contractor will be joined by the architect to ensure that everything matches the original contract specifications and the original design unless a change was agreed upon during the construction process. Finally, all parties agree to a time allotted to complete the items on the list and schedule a second walkthrough in order to confirm they are complete.


The owner’s job is to inspect the work, ask questions about anything they don’t understand, and to list work that is incomplete or completed improperly. The owner then hands off this punch list to the general contractor. The owner will perform another walkthrough after the punch list requests have been addressed.

General Contractor

The contractor’s role is to examine the details, consult with the owner’s punch list, and make their own lists for subcontractors to address.


The role of each subcontractor is to take the list they’ve been given, address the requests, and ensure each line item is completed. They must also be prepared to explain each fix because they may also be asked to explain why it was not made to specifications in the first place.


The role of architects and designers is to confirm what was built in the project matches his or her design.

Tips for the Punch List for Your New Building Project

As an owner there are several things you should know and do concerning the punch list process for your construction project.

  1. Be aware that you should not be asked to pay for your project until you have signed off on the punch list.
  2. Do regular check ups and inspections along the way to be sure things are on track the way you would like. Don’t wait until the punch list time to address things, especially major changes, or problems.
  3. Be sure to note if any of your previous property or material experienced any damage in the construction process. Be sure that fixing it is on the punch list.
  4. Attend your walkthroughs and be observant.
  5. Do a walkthrough on your own before you do one with the contractor to ensure that you see everything clearly.
  6. Ask questions if you do not understand.
  7. Speak up if something is not right or you have concerns.
  8. Address any changes that deviated from the original contract and design plan but were not addressed by you previously.
  9. Attend the second walkthrough and thoroughly check that all punch list items have been addressed.
  10. Don’t be afraid to point out any new issues that may have arisen since the previous walkthrough.

In Summary

As your commercial construction project moves closer to completion, make sure all your plans are executed to specifications and that your construction project is up to your standards. Simply put, a punch list helps organize and track those end-of-project to-do items that might otherwise go unnoticed or undone. As an owner, you can rest assured that this list is another tool that will keep everyone on track for a successful construction project wrap-up.

We understand the importance of a quality in your building projects. You want the best for your money, and you expect a quality complete product. At SCS Construction, we can help you with just that! We are happy to help you plan your next project! Call us at 317-272-0129.

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