Your Guide to Punch Lists [+ Templates]

By The GoCanvas Team on January 10, 2022

Construction projects require many detailed processes to close out work to a client’s satisfaction. Even with all the best intentions and preparation, things can be overlooked and oversight can happen during different phases of construction. Final repairs or improvements often need to be made in order to sign off on the final project by all stakeholders. Punch lists are designed to spot any mistakes or incomplete work left on the project and identify the final measures needed to close out the work. This article will discuss the meaning of a punch list and how digital forms can help simplify the process for everyone involved.

What Is a Punch List?

A punch list is a list of outstanding or incomplete work. They are used by property owners and managers, as well as contractors and subcontractors, to ensure all remaining items have been taken care of before a project is considered complete.

For example, if you have just had your home painted, the contractor might specifically note on a punch list that some windows are not properly caulked and need to be re-done. The contractor will not sign off as being finished until those items have been addressed and corrected.

Punch lists don’t have to be limited to construction sites. They can also serve as a helpful checklist during property inspections or move-in/move-outs.

What Is The Purpose of a Punch List?

The primary purpose of a punch list is to identify any tasks that were not completed on-site or on time (for example, installing insulation). However, it may be more about identifying “material” oversights. That is any missed steps that will likely not be completed at all or can be corrected later in the job.

The list also prevents these oversights from being repeated in future jobs. For example, the construction company could update their materials list to include the measurements of bricks they should use for insulation installation. Or maybe cut out other tasks that are likely to fail or cause problems.

Typically, a contractor or subcontractor will also use a punch list as the last step in completing a job. Final walk-throughs, meetings with clients, etc., might also be held before the punch list is finalized.

Who Fills Out a Punch List?

On average, four or more people will likely contribute to the punch list. They include the following:

  • Contractor: The contractor or subcontractor is typically responsible for the punch list.
  • Architect: The architect will inspect the site and create a list of changes to be made, in addition to noting any problems with the actual construction.
  • Site manager: The site manager has been on-site throughout the project and knows what work is incomplete and what needs to be addressed.
  • Homeowner/Client: The homeowner or client will contribute any changes to their original request or ideas about what still needs to be done.

It is essential for these people to be involved in creating a comprehensive punch list because everyone who has spent time working on the project should be aware of what still needs to get done. They know what has gone right, and more importantly, they know what has gone wrong.

Combining everyone’s experiences increases the chances that everything will get completed or at least identified for later (or corrected if possible). This is especially important when different companies are involved in the same construction project or if the person responsible for completing a punch list is not on-site.

How Do You Write a Punch List?

The specific format of a punch list can vary, but it will generally contain some or all of the following items.

  • An overall description of the project that includes the name or purpose of the project, date range, and the start/finish dates
  • A section indicating the room (e.g., balcony, living room, entry way)
  • A section with itemized tasks to be completed on-site. Each item on a punch list will be identified by a number. The list should be detailed enough to easily be understood by someone who did not manage the project (for example, a new client).
  • Space for comments about the problems and what still needs to be done.

The list is then given to the client or project manager for review and approval.

A Punch List Example

A punch list could contain dozens or hundreds of individual items. However, here is one example of what a punch list could look like:

Item 1 – Painting on the north wall needs to be refreshed due to cracking.

Item 2 – The west stairwell needs to be re-caulked

Item 3 – The HVAC units need to be re-insulated

Item 4 – The garage door needs its inspection sticker

Item 5– Drywall cracks around outlet in the kitchen

Item 6 – Hole in exterior wall needs to be filled and painted

Item 7 – Ceiling paint is missing in one bedroom

Why Is It Called A Punch List?

Originally, punch lists were small paper forms that were punched with a series of holes. Each hole was used to indicate the status of an individual item.

For example, if the punch list indicated that an item had been completed, the worker would place a metal stamp over one hole in the form. If they skipped an item, the punch list would have two holes. When used correctly, it was easy to see at a glance if an item had been addressed or missed.

The name became famous because of this method of “punching” holes in paper forms. While paper forms are sometimes used today, more companies are switching over to digital forms to simplify the process and bring this important report online to the cloud.

Why You Should Go Digital With GoCanvas Punch List Templates

There are several ways in which using digital punch lists can be beneficial for your business.

  • Instant reports available online. There’s no need to print and distribute physical copies of the list. It can be completed, signed-off, and sent electronically rather than having everyone on-site re-write it out or wait for a paper form to come back around.
  • Include photos for more detailed reports. You can also use mobile forms to quickly enter any missing items, attach photos to explain the problem, and even provide notes about what needs attention or how it should be addressed.
  • Collect signatures and collaborate. After you’ve made sure everything has been noted on the punch list, you can send it back to them for approval or forward it to your client’s project manager.

Get Started for Free with GoCanvas Punch List Templates

GoCanvas can be used to create digital punch lists for your business. Our pre-built templates are built with industry best practices in mind and make it easier than ever to get everyone on the same page quickly without wasting paper or time. 

Modernize your operations with punch list templates, along with the other important contractor apps like work orders, inspections, safety forms, and more. Visit our website to learn more about GoCanvas for the construction industry or sign up for a free trial account today.