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Punchlist & Final Cleaning

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Final inspection | >>Punch list & final clean

The punch list
The punch list is a list created at the end of the project. It contains a list of items or tasks that need to be repaired or completed. The list is created by the owner and confirmed by the contractor.

For spec homes, the construction superintendent creates a punch list at the end of the project. For a contracted home, the owner or architect (who represents the owner) creates the list. The contractor takes the list and makes his own inspection. He signs the list which makes a binding agreement to fix those punch list items.
In order to make an accurate punch list the one must be familiar with the plans and specifications. Flaws in the work must be repaired along with forgotten items. Here are typical items that are on a punch list:

  • Flaws in paint, finishes and textures
  • Flaws in external paint finishes and textures
  • Missing trim pieces
  • Flaws or missing weather sealing (caulk).
  • Missing hardware
  • Hardware that needs adjustment
  • Inoperable electrical fixtures and outlets.
  • Inoperable or plumbing fixtures.
  • Plumbing fixture that need repair or adjustment.
  • Appliances that need adjustment
  • HVAC controls that need adjustment
  • Fixtures and materials that do not conform to the specifications.
Once the punch list items are agreed upon the contractor organizes his sub contractors to make adjustments and repairs. Once all of the items are completed, the punch list creator (owner, architect/superintendent) checks that the items have be satisfactorily completed.

Get a New Home Checklist to help you spot all punch list items!

Often developers and large builders will prohibit anyone walking through the home during final inspection, except for the homeowner. Usually this is part of the construction contract that the owner signs. The reason that the builders don't want others coming along is two-fold: They don't want an outside expert pointing out reasonable or unreasonable flaws.

Reasonable flaws- Flaws that fall within the tolerances of building construction. Buildings are never perfect, all have some flaws Builders are worried that an "expert" friend will find flaws that are insignificant or that fall into the category of reasonable flaws. When this happens the owners perception of the quality of the home is unfairly tainted.

Unreasonable flaws- Flaws that should be fixed. The fewer items that have to be repainted, repaired or adjusted the more money the builder makes.

Substantial Completion
The punch list is created near the end of the project or at the time of "substantial completion". Substantial completion is a construction term that means the house is complete to the point that it is ready for occupancy and for its intended use. The warranty on the house and all systems begins at substantial completion. Any remaining discrepancies in the completion should be stipulated in writing (Final punch list or walk through list).

When inspecting a home prior to completion, two persons are better than one. If allowed, take along someone to help look for items that need attention. Take a set of the plans and specifications along for reference. Don't allow the contractor or their representative to rush you through the inspection. Take your time and make notes of anything that appear incorrect. Have a set of the approved plans and specification at the meeting to verify any descrepancies.

Final Cleaning
General contractors hire a cleaning firm to do the interior and exterior clean before the owner moves in. Typically cleaners charge per square foot for the house and often extra for home with a lot of windows. Owner-builders often do all of the cleaning inside and out. Keeping the site clean during the construction is as important as the final clean. The Subs need to know that they must clean up after their mess. Some contractors "backcharge" subs who leave a mess. A back charge is a fee charged to a sub to complete something that the sub should have completed. It's a good idea to give the sub a polite reminder before making a backcharge.


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