Friday // March 17, 2017

Eliminating punch lists to improve the client experience

Anyone in construction is familiar with the punch list process—walking the site, compiling a list and diligently working to complete all tasks before facility turnover.

It’s an industry standard. It’s simply how things always have been done, are currently done and will be done until the end of time. Right? Maybe there’s a better way.

While punch lists are still a practice at EMJ, we also drive our teams to prepare pre-punch lists. A pre-punch helps the team anticipate items that will be addressed during a punch list walkthrough and prepare for that process. Going through the pre-punch procedure in advance and tackling items prior to the walkthrough minimizes the number of items on the final list—and perhaps, will eventually eliminate traditional punch lists.

Why change the process?

 
A punch list is one of the final interactions a construction team has with a client and solidifies the client’s impression of a general contractor. If EMJ’s goal is to deliver unique client value, having a smooth punch list process, or eliminating the need altogether, places our client experience above industry standard.

“The punch list comes at a time when construction clients are trying to open the building, prepare staff or turnover to another tenant, and it can be a cumbersome process that they’d prefer not to have to deal with,” says Jonathan Horne, EMJ’s Director of Quality Assurance. “A client often views punch list items as the contractor’s failure to do their job.”

Punch list frustrations are not unique to the client; completion of punch list tasks can prevent both the general contractor and subcontractors from preparing for or starting work on their next project.

“It should be our goal to have zero punch list items to improve the construction experience for all participants,” says Jonathan.

Where do construction teams start?

 
The pre-punch and punch list processes are unique to every client and every project. It is important that construction teams understand the client’s expectations regarding the project, and EMJ’s C2C team approach and its steps of Ask, Listen, Think and Do can play a key role in preparing for and facilitating this process.

EMJ’s construction teams should have a clear understanding of the client’s vision and expectations for how the project should close out and work with subcontractors and other project participants to align to this goal.

“Since a smooth punch list process is extremely valuable to both the client and the contractor, it is important that construction teams take a proactive approach and not a reactive approach to this critical step,” says Jonathan.

“No matter how difficult it seems, pushing the pause button earlier in a project and compiling a pre-punch completion list will pay dividends if done correctly.”

Correctly administering a pre-punch completion list requires preparation and attention to detail. Construction teams should start by revisiting all documents associated with a project, from the plans and specifications to requests for information (RFI) and lease agreements, when applicable. Construction technology such as Procore, a cloud-based construction management software, can aid a construction team in gathering the required information and building the list.

With this information, the project team should walk the jobsite to ensure that the scope is not just completed, but done so to the highest quality standards. If any items are discovered to be incomplete or not of top-quality, they should be noted on the pre-punch list and then immediately assigned to the responsible party for completion.

“The next step is communication,” says Jonathan. “If anything is discovered to be not ready for turnover, then the responsible party needs to be made aware immediately and held accountable through documentation.”

The goal of the project team should be to have all items on the pre-punch completion list completed prior to the punch list walk through.

“A seamless punch list process or no punch list at all, assists in building client and subcontractor relationships, reducing expenses, and ultimately making a project more successful,” says Jonathan.


Photo courtesy of Bass Pro Shops

 
For more information about EMJ’s quality assurance and punch list approach, contact Jonathan Horne.

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