The Zero Punch List

Last updated on July 1, 2021

QualifiedRemodeler published an article this year focusing on how to get your project punch list to zero. The article highlights the Schloegel process shared by Chris Peterson, MCR, CLC. The article Walking Through the Path to Zero by Dan Taddei, MS Ed. BCA shares why finishing up those little things are so important. Unfinished punch list items can reflect poorly on the remodeler to delay of payment. He then looks at Schloegel’s process for creating the zero-punch list.

Reframing the Approach

What does it mean to have no punch list, and what does it take to get there? Peterson has his leads maintain a “to-do list” throughout the course of the project. This list contains items that should have been done but were not completed. For example, cabinets have been installed but one of the doors has some scratches on it. This goes on the list and stays until corrected. As the completion of the project approaches, this list should get shorter and shorter and serves as the lead’s punch list. Peterson acknowledges that the leads don’t always end without any items on the list, but the issues are normally supply chain/backorder related.

In order to manage the homeowner’s expectations, either Peterson or the project lead meets regularly with the client to discuss the project status and next steps. This allows the homeowner to be engaged in the project’s progress and helps them feel like they are part of the process. Additionally, homeowners typically maintain a list of issues they think are left to complete, and those are often bounced off the leads list.

At Schloegel Design Remodel, the last status meeting usually takes place a few days ahead of closing. At it, the lead walks the client through the project, pointing out what remains to be completed and asks the client if they see any additional issues. This allows the client to give their input, and if they found something not known, there is time to fix it. The lead also uses this time to set the stage for the final presentation that will take place in a few days.

To reframe the closing of the project, Peterson and his team make a big deal about the final result. It is no longer considered a walk-through but a final presentation. This idea stems from many of the TV home makeover shows where they present, or reveal, the final project. In addition to this final presentation, Peterson will present the client a gift of some sort; the type and cost of the gift depends on the overall project cost.

They show the client the finished project, sign off on the required paperwork and get the final check. This is a great way to complete the project and leave the client with a great feeling.

Team Gets It to Zero

What is being described may look straightforward and fairly easy, but Peterson reiterates that it takes a mindset and a team to make it happen. Your leads have to have buy in to the fact that the project will be 100 percent done on presentation day; they have to work to make that happen. The design team needs to make sure that all the materials are ordered and arrive when they are needed. If there are issues with suppliers, those need to be resolved quickly. If a project completes on time with zero items outstanding at the presentation, Peterson believes in providing incentives to his leads and designers. Each is presented with a $50 gift card, but as he says, “It is all or nothing.”

Getting to zero is more than having zero items on the punch list at closing; it is about providing a positive experience for your client with an exciting presentation at project completion. It is also a way to ensure you get the final check without delay. If this process makes sense to you, take the first step and start implementation now. – Dan Taddei, Qualified Remodler

TAre you thinking about updating your home? Give the professionals at Schloegel a call.