Punch lists are a trouble-spot for remodelers, with company owners expressing frustration with how their field staff handle the end of a job, and field staff grousing about lack of up-front instructions.

You can’t afford to wait weeks for the final payment while you tackle a long punch list. So, what’s the solution?

Start with complete information. It is amazing how so much comes back to this — particularly keeping clients on schedule with their selections. It is easy for an owner to make command decisions when needed, but problems arise if your client is not onboard. You can work around late selections during the build, but it delays completion.

Make a list as you go. An ongoing list of every item that needs to be completed allows the lead carpenter to complete items as they do other work. It also ensures that the little things will not be forgotten. Use this list every day — crossing off completed items and adding new ones. This list is your internal punch list.

Use several sets of eyes. One of the big mistakes companies make is allowing the lead carpenter to finish a job, clean up, and then have the owner or production manager come in for a walk-through. Ask your lead carpenter to make or use the list from above, and then have the production manager and company owner do a walk-through, allowing a few days to work on the list before the client’s walk-through.

Do a pre-finalization walk-through. Consider asking the client to review the project two to three weeks before job completion. This allows you to find out about their particular issues before the final cleaning and to answer questions before you create the final punch list.

Finalize each task as you go. From my experience, much of the punch list is the result of work not being properly completed the first time. Note which details regularly pop up on punch lists and make a checklist for that particular task.

Be realistic about completion times. Instead of answering off-the-cuff when the client or company owner asks when the punch list will be done, place time frames on each punch-list task. This will give an accurate understanding of the true schedule.

—Tim Faller is president of Field Training Services and author of The Lead Carpenter Handbook.