Why construction punch lists must go digital

A construction punch list (also known as a construction snag list) is used to document defects towards the end of a construction project and summarize them in the form of a to-do list. Any issues, errors or outstanding work are recorded here in order to correct them before handing over the final project.

Today, most construction snag lists are produced using spreadsheet tools like Excel, and then printed off. However, paper lists are often inefficient and can easily get lost or damaged. They also will not be updated each time changes are made – or if someone has a query. But, perhaps most importantly, they put the onus on the contractor to discover and address faults right at the end of the project – rather than fixing them as soon as they arise.

And this is why contractor punch lists must go digital.

PlanRadar punch list app

What is a punch list?

A punch or snag list is a document that is prepared at the end of a construction project and contains items that do not meet contractual requirements. It is a key aspect of quality assurance in construction.

Defects such as incomplete work, faulty materials, surfaces and structures or installations are listed in the punch list. Contracts are normally drawn up to allow the owner to withhold the final payment to the general contractor as security unless the contractor addresses issues on the snag list.

Towards the end of the building stage, the contractor is obliged to provide the architect with a comprehensive list of items to be finished or corrected. Upon receiving the contractor snag list, the architect checks whether the work is essentially complete or not. The final payment of the contractor is then made when the punch list has been cleared or when another amicable solution for the provision of the services has been reached.

Examples of the content items of a construction punch list may include:

  • Damaged materials such as defective windows
  • Dirty wall panels
  • Cracked floor coverings
  • Difficulties in the final assembly of components and devices (roof tiles needing repair, missing permits for commissioning, activation of the safety system).

The problem with standard construction punch lists

At present, today’s snag lists simply describe faults in a structure after the fact. Even construction punch list software will only show up faults at the end of the building project, without making it clear exactly what the cause of the fault is.

Why is this a problem?

Imagine that on final inspection, you notice the floor in one section of your building is uneven. The cause, however, remains hidden. Over the course of the project, numerous trades and multiple contractors have worked on the implementation of your plans. However, if you only notice a defect just before the end, how would you know who is responsible?

In many cases, your only option would be to hire a costly expert to clarify the issue at great expense.

Why using a digital construction snag list is better

Let’s imagine an alternative scenario where you used a digital alternative to snag lists.

In this approach, architects, site managers, craftsmen or site supervisors all use a digital task management tool. As soon as a defect or inconsistency occurs in the building, it must be documented.

With construction management apps like PlanRadar, the floor plans of your project are stored in our system on an intuitive interface and form the basis of all upcoming work. This means that all project participants can alert one another to defects or problems as they arise. If, for instance, the craftsman laying out the parquet floor notices it is uneven, they can take a photo and immediately tell the site manager. That ensures the craftsman will not be held responsible while allowing the site manager to solve the problem as it arises.

Incorrect construction productivity can be captured by anyone who sees it with a smartphone or tablet and it is automatically added as a task to your snag list. This means that you see snags as soon as they happen – and it’s no longer only the contractor’s responsibility to find faults at the end.

A defect can be photographed and recorded in the construction plan with the help of a ‘ticket’. This ticket can contain information in the form of images, text or voice recording and can be immediately assigned to a responsible subcontractor for repair via direct notification through our field app. The processing status can be tracked to know whether a task is completed or not, and deadlines can be set for corrections at any time.

Benefits of digital construction defect lists

The benefits of digital snag list creation with tools like PlanRadar are clear:

  • Eliminating a construction defect when it appears saves you costs, time and trouble
  • Each step taken is documented in the Cloud so that all the progress made by all contractors is accessible on your mobile device
  • You will never again be in doubt about the real cause of a defect and who is responsible for it

Ultimately, using digital technology to create snag lists means problems are fixed when they arise. That means the contractor can be much more confident they will get paid.

Choose a digital punch list for your next project

The digitization of work processes optimises management and transparency on construction sites. Tools like PlanRadar rely on an intuitive user interface and are available on all operating systems and devices (iPad, iPhone, Android or Windows/Apple laptop) and make it much easier to identify and correct construction defects. That cuts costs and ensures you get paid.

To start using digital construction snag lists on your next project, contact PlanRadar today!