Punch List vs Checklist: How to Improve Your Quality Management


Working with a Construction Punch List

Both a punch list checklist and punch lists are important components of a quality management program, but neither is sufficient on its own for a construction project.

A project punch list and the construction punch list process are inherently reactive, while checklists are proactive. Understanding the difference between the two and knowing when to use each of them throughout the construction project process is critical for successful quality project management and for achieving first-time quality.

What is Quality Management in Construction

Quality management in construction is the policies, processes and procedures put in place to improve an organisation's ability to deliver quality to its customers on a consistent and constantly improving basis.

Punch Lists Vs Checklists

What is a Punch List in Construction?

Punch lists are employed by every contractor in the construction industry to identify incomplete work, deficiencies, and compliance issues.

The process often consists of key team members walking through the construction site, flagging defects, taking photos, identifying the responsible party, and setting deadlines for correcting the mistakes.

The punch list process helps you communicate, track, and manage issues that were found and assign accountability for those deficiencies. It also helps ensure that the customer’s specifications were met.

However, punch list items or snag list does not provide a record of what was inspected and passed, let alone what complied, because the process focuses only on recording mistakes.

Learn more about FTQ360'S 6 Essential QAQC Functions For Construction Projects

Manual Punch List Process

The traditional way of doing a punch list is to enter items to be fixed into either a paper form or a spreadsheet. The items are assigned and individually emailed to the responsible parties with deadlines for correction.

When tasks are completed, they get checked off the list. If there are late or incomplete tasks, somebody must identify them and follow up. The process also depends on stakeholders being proactive about communication, which doesn’t always happen in a timely manner on a busy job site.

There is a lot of room here for operator error, especially when a list gets long.

Punch List Software

Luckily, the punch list process has been made much more efficient through modern technology and automation software. Punch list software sends items to the responsible parties automatically, as well as notifications and reminders about task progress, and also tracks when items are completed.

Communication is also improved, because you can include pictures and locations to convey details about issues more accurately. Punch list software also allows you to quickly generate reports to assess how many punch list items each subcontractor has had across multiple projects and how quickly they were corrected.     

What is a Construction Checklist?

How They Are Used

Construction checklists are used during the course of a project to create a record of compliance to specifications. Deficiencies can identify exceptions, which, when corrected, also verify completion of work to specifications.

In contrast to punch lists, which only track deficiencies, checklists also allow you to document what work was evaluated and found to be in compliance. You can also use these checklists as a tool for onboarding field personnel or new subcontractors. By starting with a checklist that clearly outlines work expectations, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page before the project even starts.

Paper Inspection Checklist Process

Using a paper checklist typically involves marking a list of items as “Yes/No” or “Pass/Fail,” as well as taking notes or adding additional items to a list found in a separate area at the bottom of the page.

A signature area often is included for stakeholders to sign, and sometimes a paper inspection gets passed along or copied so that all parties can sign the same inspection when their work has been completed.

Construction Quality Management Software

Unlike traditional, paper-based checklist systems, inspection checklist software makes it easy to share, update, and manage one set of inspection checklists that can be accessed by multiple stakeholders.

Adding pictures, notes, and signatures is easy, and the information exists in one place that is updated in real time. The software also saves time by creating a final report that satisfies clients’ reporting requirements and makes it easy to share the inspection with others.  

Construction quality management software lets inspectors add notes and pictures of the items and provides a separate field for others to respond with their comments, add additional pictures, and mark a task as complete.

Some software allows you to integrate the punch list directly into the inspection and adds current issues to the checklist so you can address them on future projects. This type of integration saves time and enables you to improve processes so you can get closer to first-time quality.

Checklists help support the quality management process by clearly defining standards and expectations. Dynamic checklists that allow quality ratings are much more effective than basic versions with simple “Yes/No” fields.

Linking checklists and the associated vendor quality ratings also contributes to a better quality management process, as you can make more informed decisions on future projects.

Construction punch list software that can produce punch lists and checklists which each have essential functions in quality management.

However, it’s also important to remember that not all lists provide the same value. Dynamic lists that are linked to other relevant data will give you the information you need to reduce punch items and improve first-time quality. If you’d like to learn more about quality management software, contact FTQ360 today.  

Construction quality management software

Related Articles

Four Effective Measures Taken by Skilled Contractors to prevent Construction Defect Litigation

The threat of construction defect litigation looms large for every contractor. It can severely impact a contractor's...


Case Study: How a construction company reduced subcontractor errors

A construction company building office complexes in the Midwestern United States had a crippling problem. In their words, “the...


4 Tips for Reining in Excessive Construction Warranty Claims

Excessive warranty issues can swiftly turn a profitable construction project into a financial burden. Beyond the direct costs,...