Ask IONIC #9 - Punchlist?
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What is a punch list? Too often, we in the architectural and construction world forget that we have our own language. It’s kind of like Starbucks… the only company in the world that makes up their own language to order some coffee…and you HAVE TO use it get your Caramel Macchiato, Venti, Skim, Extra Shot, Extra-Hot, Extra-Whip, Sugar-Free…blah blah blah! Some of the terms that we commonly use are not necessarily familiar with the rest of the world. The word punchlist is probably one of those words that not everybody understands.
The definition of punchlist is a written documented list of all of the items on the construction project that do not meet the standards or expectations for completion.
Sometimes items that are incomplete or missing will be added on to this list as well. Many times IONIC prefers to allow the contractor to generate their own punchlist first prior to the architect of record walking through the site. They will most likely know the areas that need to be addressed before a giant list is created. The contractor requires his subcontractors to review their work and ensure it is ready for inspection. Mostly because a giant list of issues or incomplete work doesn’t look good on the contractor. Beforehand, we as the architect, may take notice of areas of concern and call them out informally to the GC so they can address them prior to origination of the punchlist. This can give everyone a clear expectation of the desired outcome. Obviously, we want them to complete things on time so making them aware of our concerns earlier on helps them address the items more quickly without impacting the completion schedule. Once the contractor has established the readiness of the project for architect and owner inspection, the meeting date is scheduled for all parties to participate. During that time, all parties will walk the site together and review not only the exterior of the building but also all of the interior including any site work that may have been performed as well. Anything that was included in the general contractor's contract will be reviewed for completeness and the satisfactory level of performance that was expected. Separate from the general contractor's punchlist, other vendors that the owner has hired independently may be included on the primary punchlist or a separate punchlist for their action items. This could include furniture, telecommunications, signage, and other related items. IONIC has a preferred way of producing this list that alleviates many questions and inquiries during the procedure and final completion. We provide a detailed scenario and explanation of the items that we have a concerns with. For example if we simply said room 101 in the far left corner has a flaw in the drywall near the baseboard, the contractor may not know exactly the location and will have to come back to the architect to indicate where this flaw actually occurs. That happens if ONLY words are used and not pictures also. The items that IONIC incorporates into a punchlist are the following:
1. A written list is created in an Excel type format that lists numerically all of the issues to be addressed. It also includes the location such as a room number or location on the exterior of the facility. It also includes the responsible party for the general contractor to assign to the responsible subcontractor that performed this work and the action necessary to resolve. This list is often delivered digitally so that several parties can address it during the course of resolution. Recently, we’ve begun using it as a shared document so that any update to the work being completed is immediately alerted to all parties. This prevents multiple copies going out and unauthorized changes. Less confusion and more communication!
2. Floor plans and Elevations. IONIC produces a small set of 11 x 17 size documents that incorporate floor plans, exterior elevations and if necessary interior elevations that are highlighted with a circle and a number and that references back to the Excel spreadsheet. By utilizing this procedure it eliminates all doubt of the area of concern. Sometimes this can be a bit time-consuming but we feel that in the long run it helps all parties involved to address the punchlist items quickly.
3. One feature that IONIC most often incorporates into our punchlist report is a photographic record of all of these areas. Photographs of the area of concern are taken and produced in the individual report that references again the item numbers on the Excel spreadsheet. Typically in the remarks column of the spreadsheet IONIC will list photograph numbers as a reference for all the parties. This isn't always done for each and every one of the items but done for most of them. For instance we wouldn't take photos of each and every occurrence where there might be a flaw in the paint finish. We wouldn't necessarily take photos of final cleaning or close out documents such as warranty services but rather just listed as part of the general punchlist notes that the general contractor needs to address. This keeps the photograph report from getting too large and cumbersome. With these three items provided in the punchlist documents the outstanding completion can be quickly addressed by all parties. This helps to get that final 10% of the project accomplished swiftly and efficiently. By the architect producing these documents in writing, the contractor is then notified that this is a concern for the architect and owner. If it was just said in passing during the site visit there isn't any record that can be addressed. Written notices are always the best procedure. Once items have been completed by the contractor and subcontractor, notification goes back out to the architect and owner to review again. This doesn't always occur if there is only a minimal number or non-consequential items. Sometimes the contractor can simply take a picture of the completed work and send it to the parties for their final review and approval. However if an additional site visit needs to be performed, the walk-through follows a similar process as before and confirms each item has been addressed appropriately. If an item has not been addressed, it remains on the list and is updated once again for distribution to all parties. The completion of the punch list is part of the process that is required for the general contractor to receive release of their retainage payment. If the final completed items do not get addressed in a timely manner and to the satisfaction of the owner then the retainage will remain. There are times when a reduction in retainage below the 10% will occur for large projects if most of the items have been addressed and only minor items remain. This is at the owner's discretion. It is always wise to retain enough money on the contract to ensure that all the work can be completed should the contractor failed to do so. In some cases we have seen a contractor walk off of a project and not complete these items. The owner retains that money and can utilize those funds to hire other workers to complete the work satisfactorily in accordance with the AIA agreement. If we get to this stage it gets a bit ugly. I think we all prefer that the project get completed as we originally planned. Good contractors with solid reputations will never leave the project unfinished. They look for solutions. Once all the items have been completed and the contract is fulfilled, the general contractor will typically issue warranties and final completion of the contractual agreement for all parties to sign off on. Yay! The project is finished and you can now move into your new facility!
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