The Punch List

Take careful note of areas where the work isn't quite done or done right, and keep a "punch list."

By Bob Vila | Updated Jun 17, 2019 2:19 PM

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

Punch List


As the end of the project approaches, enjoy the signs of completion as they emerge. At the same time, however, take careful note of areas where the work isn’t quite done or done right. Like moldings that don’t match up, a door that doesn’t close, missing hardware, and other details.

Don’t take it upon yourself to bring up every nit and pick with the nearest workman, or even with his boss. Instead, you should make a list. There’s a term of art in the building trades for this final list of corrections.

It’s called a punch list. The punch list isn’t em hourly gift for your architect or contractor. Give it to him when you’ve got more than two or three items, and after he’s had enough time to address the fixes you gave him on the last list. Keep copies for yourself, too, and follow up before you give him the next one to make sure what you asked for got done. If it didn’t, find out why.

The punch list is a key part of getting the job completed. Always carry a small pad or notebook with you—it is critical to write things down. Don’t trust your memory.

This is when that 10 percent of the final prices you’re holding back comes in handy. You’ve got leverage now, so use it. Your contractor or some of the subs may complain and mumble under their breaths, but get the job finished before you pay.