A Punch List Form

Contractors and Construction Contracts
Home Inspections

I was told to get a punch list form, do you know where I can get one?


This is in response to your request for a punch list form. Let me first of all explain the 'why, when, how and what for' of punch lists:


Clearly, your house at the time of my inspection was not ready (nor did we expect it to be). Some of the cabinets were not installed. Carpet was being installed. Electrical work was being done. Final cleaning had not started. There were radios blaring and subcontractors running around all over the place. The water was off and the tubs and showers dirty, etc.

It would have taken 3 days to come up with a complete punch list, and then, another list would have been required to record all of the items which could not be seen today.


The punch list is a written set of notes taken at the time of a final walk-through which comes at the end of a construction project. The builder should call for the walk-through when he/she thinks that EVERYTHING that can be done has been done. This may not always be possible, the deadline for closing on the house may be 3 days away, and the builder is sure that the work is 99% complete. However, it is very difficult and time consuming to develop a good punch list if major elements of work are 'in progress'.

The walk-through and punch list are intended to identify and document the FEW (say 24 or less) remaining items which need to be completed by the contractor before the project is SUBSTANTIALLY complete. I am not an attorney, and can't give you a legal definition of what substantial completion means. However, from a construction point of view I would use a "duck" definition (if it walks like...) Is it ready to move in? Are all the systems working? Is it clean?

The walk-through requires the participation by a representative of the contractor and the owner or prospective owner of the house. If an architect, designer or construction manager has been supervising the construction, then they must also be there at the time of the walk-through, and they will usually manage the process. The owner may want to have a home inspector there at the time of the walk-through.

Each section of the home, interior and exterior, must be visited and inspected (at the same time) by the whole group performing the walk-through. Everyone should be working together and looking at the same items together. Any defects, missing or incomplete items should be discussed and noted in writing. For example:

  • 2nd floor SW bedroom - closet door needs door pull hardware By 12/10/97
  • Paint touch up at N. and E. walls at floor level By 12/10/97
  • Kitchen - disposer leaks into cabinet By 12/10/97
  • Dining Room - ceiling fixture ordered 3 month ago, supply house informs builder that it was shipped from Venice (Italy) last Tuesday, due to arrive in 3-4 weeks.
  • Basement bathroom- shower needs cleaning. By 12/10/97
One combined list needs to be developed and copies provided to the buyer and contractor. The contractor needs to provide a realistic time lines for the completion of all the items. Most items need to be completed prior to closing (in new construction) or prior to final payment. A holdout may be required for larger items which can't be completed.

Some people like to use small 'yellow sticky' notes to identify the specific location of a defect. Find out from you builder if they have any objections. You may also want to take photos.


You need to be assertive enough to let the contractor know that you expect the work to be done to the standards called for in your contract. But, you don't want to 'go overboard', and give the builder the impression that you are asking for a perfect house. Be firm, but try to maintain a good working relationship with the builder.

I have never seen a perfect house, and don't expect to ever see one. I have also seen many homes in which the buyers didn't go far enough in demanding that the work be performed to the standards in their contract.


You will not find all of the defects and incomplete items during the walk-through. Other issues are very likely to develop over the next few month. All of these items should be covered by the written warrantee provided by the builder. Be sure to read and understand what is covered (including deadlines etc.).


This form is intended as a guideline for a punch list. Your builder or attorney may have his/her own form. You should review the contract, plans, specifications, and any change orders prior to the walk-through.

Time_________ Date___________ Address_________________________________________

Contractor's Representative______________________________________________________

Owner's Representative__________________________________________________________

Others Present_______________________________________________________________

ROOM/LOCATION DESCRIPTION OF ITEM DATE FOR COMPLETION _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ (add lines as required)

Will another walk-through be required? yes no (circle one) If yes, when?___________________

Date for substantial completion___________________________________

Item which can't be completed before substantial completion: _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

Amount of holdback (if any) for any incomplete items $_____________

Signatures: ____________________________ Owner's Representative


____________________________ Contractor's Representative

Good luck! George