Myth No. 3 — A Punchlist is a Good Idea

Mention “mold” and remodelers and builders alike run for high ground, away from the black menace. There is however an even more deadly, evil being that can come to life on the jobsite and strike when your defenses are down. This demon is so sinister it even invades your brain and makes you invite disaster. Yes, my fingers tremble as I type its eerie name, the “Punchlist,” shudder.

Ah, the Punchlist, that wonderful idea is an expensive and painful alternative to a root canal; that best and fastest way to turn an edgy client into a fire-breathing dragon. Near the end of our job, when our client who is, let’s say, reasonably happy with us, we decide to put them in charge of how “bad we are.” We ask them to make a list of our mistakes; sorta’ like a construction quality lost and found — “if they don’t find it we don’t have to fix it” idea. If that idea isn’t bad enough, how about doing it at the time when Mr. and Mrs. Client are facing the reality of the total they have spent, even though they haven’t paid the last (choke) amount yet? Get the picture? We (the homeowner and thee) are going to walk around their new:

  • Castle
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom (check one please) to look for your screw-ups and write them down - and guess what, if they don’t find all of them, they still have to pay thee.

“Will he come back and fix anything we don’t find today if we pay him anyway,” they ask themselves? Is the picture bleak enough yet?
Almost every first time clients will wonder if they will ever see you again after they give you the final payment and accept the job; it may be a fleeting thought but they will probably have it.

There are two basic issues here with which we need to deal for our own well-being and the clients’ comfort and assurance that they did indeed pick the best contractor for the job.

No. 1 — To defuse the idea that the acceptance of the job means they are on their own, that you will be there for anything that needs attention.

No. 2 — They won’t be asked to accept the job until it is complete, finished, cleaned and polished — free of defects and ready to be PRESENTED.

The answer to the first is the easiest — you simply tell them they will have that thought; it’s not unusual to wonder if some of the crazy rumors are right, that builders and remodelers are a bad lot. Explain that the final acceptance means that construction is over and the warranty and customer service begins. They may not buy into the idea completely, but the fact that you brought it up will be a little reassuring and disarming.

As to the second point, explain that some construction items, dings near the end or slips during finishing, are all noted when the company makes its preliminary final inspection. It’s best to maid-clean the job before you inspect it for touch-up. Then just like when they deliver a new car, we take care of all those things, test everything and then check it again and only when WE call it finished, is it time to brag about it to the homeowner. That is why you should call it the “presentation and acceptance,” not the “Punchlist,” barf.

Keep in mind that every client expects their remodeling job to be perfect. Do yourself a big favor and don’t show them something that has obvious defects, no matter how small it might be. Get rid of them before you show the client your masterpiece; make it a presentation — show it the way they expect it, not a Punchlist but a presentation, something without defects and worth every cent of their investment.

While you’re here . . .