Use Checklists to Eliminate Construction Defects (i.e. Punch Lists)



There’s a holy grail in construction: zero defects.

It’s unattainable, right? The subcontractors and crews aren’t perfect. Mistakes happen. Steps are forgotten. Items are left incomplete. There is always a punch list. Call backs are inevitable. Or are they?

One of the best tools to reduce—if not completely eliminate—the punch list is to use checklists. Simple, direct and just one-page, checklists remind each subcontractor what to prepare, do and look for to ensure the job is 100% complete. They can be filled-out by the subcontractor, and verified by the superintendent. This eliminates recurring problems, avoids common mistakes and forgotten steps, and creates continuity in job completion.

It all starts with job readiness. Before they even set down the toolbox, Subcontractors can refer to their checklist to make sure they are using the most current version of blue prints and that the jobsite conditions are clean and ready for them to begin work. The painter, for example, is reminded to check that all trim nails are flat against the wall and the drywall seams are sanded smooth. This reduces paint defects and the dreaded call back.

Checklists ensure work is performed the same way on every jobsite, on every job, every time. This consistency will dramatically reduce errors and ensure a consistent level of quality is achieved every time. It also allows builders to reiterate standards, such as a reminder not to discuss work on the jobsite directly with clients or the requirement not to leave trash on the construction site. General reminders such as “check for change orders” or job specific direction help ingrain the builder’s policies.

Finally, checklists reinforce job completion. They provide one last check that the work is 100% complete and ready for the following subcontractor. For example, the electrician must check-off that all outlets and lights are working before leaving the jobsite. Electrical, mechanical and plumbing all need reminders to double-check in-wall installations before drywall. Recurring errors and common mistakes can be addressed through checklists as well, eliminating the repeat offenders that keep popping-up on previous punch lists.

Checklists are an easy-to-use tool for Builders that are serious about eliminating punch list items. Showing Subcontractor Partners how they are saving time and money through reduced callbacks and return trips will encourage them to use the checklists. However, tying checklist usage and submission to pay approval will provide added incentive. Once in place, both the Builder and Subcontractor will see an improvement in job completion, and will be a giant leap closer to that elusive 0 item punch list.


Subscribe Here!