Project punch lists can grow into volumes of pages listing paint blemishes, scuff marks, and bits of dust, while neglecting to note significant missing items. On one project the punch list team had tagged and noted as many as 20 minor paint imperfections on each of several walls but, as we later learned, the team had failed to note missing heating equipment on the same walls. The missing heating equipment escaped the notice of architectural and mechanical inspectors alike. It was apparent the inspectors had not reviewed the plans to consider what was supposed to be in the rooms they were going to inspect. They simply walked into a room and looked for perfection in what they could see.
Before starting an inspection, the punch list team should meet to review the drawings and specifications and establish punch list priorities for items and conditions to check, including everything that should be there by contract. When working in an area, ask the question: “Is there something we don’t see that should be here?”
Another anecdote that comes to mind: A public client with a nearly completed building in its punch list phase considered adding air-conditioning to address complaints of heat in an auditorium. Although the air-conditioning would add value, the complaints were mostly related to a blocked gravity exhaust vent located high on a wall. The vent was visible from inside if you looked for it, but the picture from outside was quite different; the contractor had covered the vent opening with siding.