Punch List Template

What is a Punch List?

A punch list is the final list of items to be addressed by general contractors and owners before project completion. Punch lists usually include non-conformance items, outstanding tasks, and minor issues. It is only prepared when the work is substantially fulfilled and the contractor has arranged a punch list walkthrough with the client and architect. A punch list template is a tool commonly used in the construction industry to effectively finish the job, ensure proper project closeout, and improve customer satisfaction.

What is a Punch List Template?

A punch list template is a simple tool used by general contractors to create, update, and complete punch list items. Though most punch list templates are used as guides in writing punch lists, some punch list templates already contain common pre-closeout issues for the contractor to start with and build on.

Why Use a Punch List Template?

Punch list templates are highly adaptable and can be tailored to fit a variety of project categories. For example, a construction company might use one punch list template for renovation projects and another for building projects. 

Aside from being customizable, a punch list template also gives contractors, sub-contractors, architects, and workers a chance to collaborate and integrate their knowledge, resulting in a seamless experience for the client.

Starting from a common base also makes it easier for people of different professions or companies to work together in completing the punch list items on time. With both team collaboration and efficiency maximized, reaching project closeout sooner than expected is an attainable goal for all involved.

What is the Process?

The punch list process involves tasks that are typically done by the architect and contractor. Below are the steps in the punch list process presented in their proper order:

For the contractor:

  1. Review contract documents
  2. Inspect construction work
  3. Decide if work is substantially complete
  4. Prepare a punch list
  5. Submit punch list to architect

For the architect:

  1. Conduct a pre-final inspection
  2. Prepare a certificate of substantial completion that includes the following information:a) Date of substantial completion

    b) Responsibilities of client and contractor

    c) Timeframe for contractor to finish punch list items

  3. Submit certificate to client and contractor

For the contractor:

  1. Submit written acceptance to architect
  2. Finish punch list items
  3. Notify architect and apply for final payment

How Do You Write a Punch List?

Since punch lists vary depending on the nature of the project and the quality of the construction work completed in the previous phases, the process of writing a punch list is different each time. However, there are basic steps that a contractor must take to form a coherent punch list that the client, architect, and subcontractors approve of. 

Below are 3 key steps on how to write a punch list:

  1. Arrange a Punch List Walkthrough

    Start by arranging a punch list walkthrough with the client and architect. During the punch list walkthrough, note down the defects observed by the client, architect, or yourself. Remember to include the location of these defects and add photos of them to be used as reference when you write the detailed punch list later on. Before the punch list walkthrough ends, clarify with the client regarding the priority of these defects or punch list items.

  2. Describe Each Task in Detail

    Go through your notes from the punch list walkthrough and list down the actions needed to fix the defects identified. These actions or tasks should be described in full detail. Add photos of defects, drawings, or floor plans to help emphasize where the problems are and what exactly needs to be done to solve them.

  3. Assign Tasks and Set Deadlines

    Finish the punch list by assigning each action or task to a subcontractor or worker and indicate the deadline. Before submitting the punch list to the architect, discuss with subcontractors the tasks they’ve been assigned and modify the punch list based on their input.


Here is an example of a simple punch list containing punch list items in construction:

⚪incorrect installations, e.g., has the AC been installed incorrectly?
⚪incidental damages, e.g., did something happen during construction?
⚪poor execution/craftsmanship, e.g., are the cabinets not made according to specifications?
⚪unfinished features, e.g., is the waterproof paint coating not yet finished
⚪missing components, e.g., are the door handles there?
⚪mechanical, plumbing, and electrical issues, e.g., are the sockets usable?

A punch list item of a more comprehensive punch list would look like this:

Location 2nd floor kitchen 
Trade Electrical
Task Fix light switch
Description The light switch beside the door leading to the dining room is not working. Please check if the light switch was installed incorrectly or needs to be replaced. 
Photo punch list template photo evidence
Type Non-conformance
Priority Medium
Due Date 07/05/2021
Person Responsible Luke
Status In Progress
Notes/Comments If the light switch has to be replaced, notify John in advance so he can place the order early.


FAQs About Punch Lists

The term “punch list” was coined based on the old practice of workers punching a hole next to an item on a list. Back then, punching a hole was the equivalent of marking an item as done and an item with a punched hole meant that the task was completed or that the issue was resolved.

Similar to the use of checklists today, punch lists made workers’ lives easier since they didn’t need to write “done” each time they completed an item on the list.

The contractor is responsible for the punch list, which is also called a snag list in the UK. Since most construction contracts specify retainage of a percentage of the job cost, a contractor needs to write, submit, and complete a punch list in order to receive the final payment.

While the contractor is responsible for the punch list overall, each punch list item is usually assigned to a worker or a subcontractor, who is then responsible for accomplishing the item or task by its set due date and according to the standards of the client, contractor, and architect.

For clients, a punch list should contain items that didn’t meet their expectations or the specified requirements of the project. Ideally, clients should have clarified and discussed these with the contractor, architect, and sub-contractors during the discovery session. This helps ensure that workers perform relevant tasks correctly and less punch list items are generated as a result.

In general, punch lists should cover the client’s needs and priorities as well as any safety or quality concerns the contractor may have regarding project execution.

SafetyCulture Content Team
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SafetyCulture Content Team
The SafetyCulture content team is dedicated to providing high-quality, easy-to-understand information to help readers understand complex topics and improve workplace safety and quality. Our team of writers have extensive experience at producing articles for different fields such as safety, quality, health, and compliance.

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