In previous articles, we have discussed the homeowner’s role in various aspects of a successful remodeling project – budgeting, scheduling, etc. As a project nears it’s end, there is one last task that can often determine the ultimate success of a project – creating the Punch List. It is really amazing how taking care of all of the loose ends brings a project to life. Here are some key things for a homeowner to remember when compling their punch list.
Don’t change course. As long as you have been clear and consistent throughout the process of the project in terms of your expectations of quality & product performance, your contractor should be able & willing to take care of the Punch List items to your satisfaction. For example, if you had agreed to a Level 3 finish for your new sheetrock, which is the industry norm, and then at the end of the project you think that the walls should be as smooth as skating rink ice (Level 5, which is the top finish requiring a sheetrock glaze), you have changed course. If you have clearly defined what you expect the final result to be, your contractor should be able to complete the project to your satisfaction.
Take your time while looking carefully at all aspects of the project. Up until this final phase, the tendency is to look at the big picture, marveling at how your home has changed. In this final phase, it’s time to focus on the details. Make sure all of the cabinet doors & drawers operate properly, look for dings and dents in the trim/walls that may not have shown before the new lighting was installed, examine the door hardware for proper operation, etc. A good contractor will have been taking care of many of these details prior to the end of a project, but in the end, it’s your eyes that really count.
Make your list by room and it sure helps to have it typed. A nice extra touch is to have a space for placing your initials or your contractor’s when the item is completed. If you email this to your contractor he/she can easily add your items to the contractor’s punch list. He/she probably has most of these already on the list.
Coordinate your Punch List priorities with the contractor. Depending on the size of the project, the completion of the punch list and the final details can take some time. As each subcontractor is finishing their part of the project, let your contractor know of any concerns you may have relating to their work because getting sub-contractors back at the end of a job to correct small details is a scheduling challenge. So establish which items are most important to you and then consult with your contractor as she/he will know the order in which things will need to be done. If you talk with your contractor, you can come up with a plan that makes sense to everyone.
Make sure you are satisfied with the end results. Your contractor wants you to be pleased with your project, as word-of-mouth is a great advertising tool, so don’t settle for less than you want just to be finished. Don’t necessarily assume that the fix is the best that can be done, as you will likely always be bothered by, for example, the door that seems to close by itself.
Things cannot always be “perfect”, but as long as your expectations are realistic, you should feel like you have gotten everyone’s best effort. Then you can relax in your new kitchen or media room and feel like you got exactly the job you had envisioned.