Kitchen & Bath Design News

AUG 2015

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20 | Kitchen & Bath Design News | August 2015 Building the Job { Steve Nicholls } Tips for Maintaining Control of the Punch List "Well this could be the last time This could be the last time Maybe the last time I don't know. Oh no. Oh no" A n early song by Keith and Mick – this may remind us of the feeling we sometimes get when faced with fnishing up a project. Is it the last list of to-do items we're going to see from our customer? Or is there more to come? The 'punch list' – a grouping of tasks and problems that need to be addressed before fnal project sign-of – this is the way the industry copes with getting the work fnally com- pleted and signed of. The end of the job can often be a very challenging time for clients – and for design professionals and builders, too. There have often been months – sometimes years – of prepa- ration, planning, design, permitting and building to get to the end of the process, and the strong fnish is what will stick in everyone's mind. With well-executed procedures, there are a few ways all parties can prevent the punch list from becoming a tiresome and unending problem for all parties. EARLY ON Start out with the end in mind – by addressing the punch list before you start the work – in the construction contract. Who specifcally will generate the fnal list of to-do items? Will it be the owner, the design professional or the builder? A combination of all three parties can be good, and if that's the way you all agree in the contract docu- ment, it's a frm baseline for everyone. You should specify a written list, too, not just relying on a verbal one. It's good to agree that it will be one single list, rather than several – and you may want to agree that it be written up as part of a 'walk-through' on the project, room by room. When that time comes, set a meeting and have the three parties do it together, if possible. The construction contract should probably have the final payment schedule be tied to punch list com- pletion, that way there's a fnancial incentive for the builder to actually fnish the job. But don't make it more than 2% or so – it's very rare that the fnish-up is worth anything more than that amount. AS THE WORK GETS BUILT The most efective punch lists are ac- tually not the ones that come at the end of the job, but the lists that get made as the work proceeds, the ones that are ongoing. These lists consist of items that get done before the owner notices or has to bring them up as an issue. Maybe there's a sheetrock nail dimple visible through the dry- wall mud, for example: Bring it to the subcontractor's attention early on, preferably before painting happens. That way it'll never make it to the fnal punch list. Try to get the carpenter and foreman to be always taking care of outstanding problems rather than letting them pile up. Most good builders will develop a room-by-room list of unfnished items: paint dings and scratches, sheetrock repairs, fnish carpentry fxes, elec- trical trim-out, whatever it is. And toward the end of the work, it's good to have that list be blue-taped up on the wall in each room so the items can be checked of as they get com- pleted. The subs get to see them as well, so they're part of the fnishing- up process. If you're the project designer and you see something that doesn't really work well, bring it up with the builder before you loop the client into the is- sue. Maybe the tile mosaic around the master bath shower isn't coming out as nicely as you'd hoped; take the builder on one side and see if there's a solution before it becomes part of a sub-standard fnished product that everyone argues about. The whole idea of collaborating is key to a project's success – and avoid- ing a lengthy punch list is the best way to avoid a messy ending. The relation- ship between designer and builder, where you fgure things out together, is where the rubber meets the road. After all, there are so many design details that don't actually get drawn up. How will the 6"-high painted base- board in the dining area meet the 4" cherry wood cabinet kickface in the kitchen area? Is there enough clear - ance to get the custom shades into the jamb space of the new windows in the family room? The last thing you want is to see these overlooked details end up on a fnal punch list – especially details that don't actually work. Collaborating well also means not taking the other parties and 'throwing them under the bus' if something looks like it's going wrong. And, perhaps, more importantly, the builder has to protect the designer's credibility with the client, at least if that builder wants any more work from the designer! If the plumbing fxture doesn't ft at the shallow vanity top, don't go pointing the fnger. Figure out a solution and move forward. Unexpected things are guaranteed to happen on all jobs, so you might as well just get used to it: Deal with the situation, resolve it and make sure that it's taken care of and doesn't become a thorny problem at the end of the project. The last thing the client wants to do is play referee between builder and designer. ENDING CRISPLY Some builders have separate crews to fnish out projects – a new set of eyes on the work. The workers who've been on the job for three months have a very different view of the work compared to someone who arrives fresh on Monday. The people who've been there from the start might walk right by the loose piece of door casing at the bedroom door; they don't really see it, it's been that way for weeks. The new arrival will just fx it quickly and move on. Some of these crews are people who do maintenance work, at least with the larger remodeling compa- nies. These folks are used to fxing things and, for them, the punch list is no big deal – they're able to do touch-up painting, drywall repair, basic plumbing and electrical work. It might be time for a change of face and motivation on the job, and the work will probably get completed much faster. Another key part of fnishing well is making sure that the punch list is both generated and completed prior to move in. That punch list has a magical way of growing longer after the cli- ent takes possession with their kids, dogs and friends. This is when photo- graphs of the job can really help – and it's easy to do with smart phones. Did those sink cabinet doors really Checking the work as the job gets done is the best way to avoid ending up with a lengthy punch list that can jeopardize your client's satisfaction with their fnal kitchen or bath project. Read past columns and features and send us your comments about this article and others by logging onto our Web site: KitchenBathDesign.com "With well-executed procedures, there are a few ways all parties can prevent the punch list becoming a tiresome and unending problem for all parties."

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