Best Practices for a Zero Punch list


A punch list is a document prepared near the end of a construction project listing work not conforming to contract specifications. These must be completed by the contractor before receiving final payment. A zero-punch list is when a project is completed, and all specifications are met according to the contractual agreement before the final deadline and before being pointed out by the developer / client. This has been a benchmark of excellence for owners, developers, designers and contractors. Getting to the stage of a zero-punch list requires a collaborative effort from the entire team along with planning, communication and integrating the zero-punch list goal into the project from start of construction to completion.

The most effective zero punch list programs focus on working through the project error free from the beginning till the end. This involves protecting that work from gradual damage throughout the construction process. The key is to look at the project from the client’s perspective. Clients are not as interested in project closeout as they are looking forward to the beginning. Therefore, it is important to understand what is more imperative to them and what lessens their satisfaction.

While implementing a zero-punch list program, the construction team must agree on the issues that are prevalent throughout the process and try to resolve them. The following are common approaches that companies with successful zero punch-list programs follow:

1. Implementing a rolling punch list

This is a constant tracking and checking of work throughout the duration of the project with a definite closeout schedule assigned to each task

2. Identifying the zero-punch list goal in each partner agreement

  • A checklist should be required from each partner for quality verification with clear cut deadlines

  • Timelines should be defined in which to complete rolling punch items

  • All future payments should be withheld until the checklist is completed within the time frame provided

3. Assigning list management to a single employee

The management of the list should be assigned to a single employee who should be competent and experienced enough to manage list items

4. Providing frequent updates to the owner

Their satisfaction is the main goal so that must reflect in the entire construction process. They should be provided a walk-through of project status at each stage so that they are aware of project progress and pace.

5. Encouraging transparent dialogue among all stakeholders

This will help identify potential issues early on to incorporate remedial measures beforehand.

6. Requiring Building Start-up Documents

Building start-up documents like O&M should be required 30 days following submittal approval which will prevent potential delays at the end of the project

7. Creating a rewards program tied to zero-punch list

This will provide incentive to stakeholders to adhere to strict guidelines and reach the zero-punch list goal. These can include fastest response time, least number of errors, best initial error free team member etc. The results can be highlighted in project status meetings providing better motivation to workers and reassurance to owners.

Finally, to achieve the zero-punch list goal, it is critical that incomplete work is not accepted from any third parties or people under the GCs umbrella as well. If the contract entails being finished by a particular date, then it should be done in that time frame.

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