Identifying Construction Bugs 2

Punch Lists                                                   

Punch lists are lists of unfinished or substandard work compiled by the superintendent while “walking” the jobsite.

These lists can be notes written on scratch pads using a rigid clip-board…or formal company checklist used during the successive phases of the construction.

By examining punch lists for all of a company’s projects, any practices or materials causing problems on several projects can be identified…with the aim of ultimately reducing each problem to a non-repeating, historical issue relegated to the past.

RFIs (requests for information)                  

Requests for information (RFIs) are written questions submitted to the architect or engineers…by the builder or a subcontractor and involve conflicts or omissions on the plans or in the specifications…or some issue in the construction.

RFIs can also simply be a photograph of a problem in the construction…using an I-phone for example…which is e-mailed to the architect or one of the engineers along with a follow-up telephone call…but memorialized also in a written RFI to document the problem and the solution.

RFIs from a number of past projects can be a goldmine of information that can be organized and analyzed to be used in a checklist format to proactively debug the design plans for similar current and upcoming projects.

Because RFIs generally are described and illustrated in sufficient detail…and answered with equal specificity in addressing the problem or issue…RFIs are ready-made in that they can simply be applied to current and future upcoming projects to determine if similar conditions might produce similar questions or problems.

Eliminating RFI’s proactively upfront before the actual construction begins can greatly improve all aspects of the project…from obtaining more accurate bids to avoiding time-consuming stoppages in the work…and the costly manpower inefficiency of having to temporarily move tradespeople around on the jobsite to other areas until a particular question is answered or a plans conflict is resolved.

Red-Lined Plans                                           

Red-lined sets of plans are plans (blueprints) that have been corrected or modified in the field because of errors or owner changes.

For multi-unit production tract housing and condominiums…red-lined plans are usually generated during the construction of the sales models…which is the trial-run before full-scale production begins…the time-period in the project when the construction is debugged and the owner makes interior floor plan and exterior elevation changes.

The red-lined plans are then given back to the architect and engineers for revision so that a correct updated set of plans can be used for the remainder of the construction.

Red-lined plans enable the builder to identify common mistakes to look for on future plans.

For example, laundry closets typically dimensioned 30 inches deep by the architect might be too tight for some brands of clothes dryers when the inclusion of the dryer vent hose and the gas pipe are taken into consideration…resulting in the wood bi-fold door bottom metal guides rubbing against the fronts of the appliances for lack of space.

I have seen plans that mistakenly show a bedroom wardrobe closet opening width of 5 feet and 6 inches…when standard 2-foot 9-inch closet doors do not exist.

These types of errors should become part of a growing checklist the builder uses as he or she analyzes the plans before the start of every new project.

Homebuyer Walkthrough Sheets                           

Homebuyer walkthrough sheets are a source for identifying quality-control items that slipped past the final phase of the construction…but were noticed by the homebuyer at the walkthrough.

Some of things items are minor like missed paint touchup, and more than likely are the result of time-crunch of completions, escrow closings, and move-ins that occur in a bunch.

But other items are actual bugs that show up repeatedly on several walkthroughs…and therefore require identification and attention in order to be eliminated going forward.

Warranty Complaint Letters                                  

Warranty complaint letters are a source of quality-control and debugging information noticed or occurring after the homebuyers move into their homes.

These letters are a means for evaluating the quality of the materials and products used, the construction methods, the warranty repair service of subcontractors in terms of response time and effectiveness, and the functional utility of architectural designs.

Warranty complaint letters also tell the builder how accurate in the homebuyer walkthrough in identifying issues that need to be resolved at or before homebuyer move-in.  If the walkthrough sheet lists only 4 minor items to repair at walkthrough…yet 60 days later the builder receives a customer service complaint letter or form listing 30 items that would or should have been obvious during the walkthrough…and this is not an isolated occurrence but is the repetitive experience…this then tells the builder that something is wrong at the delivery phase of the new units.

Author: Barton Jahn

I worked in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have eight Christian books self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on more books on building construction.

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