Everyone who buys a new construction home needs to understand the role of the punchlist!
If you don't find problems and make the builder correct them before you close on your new home, you're going to waste money due to poor construction and/or materials. You'll spend money on higher utility bills, repairs due to faulty installation and/or materials and worst, having to replace home features much sooner than is reasonable. And I'm not talking about a couple hundred dollars.
Last year I spent more than $12,000 replacing the stone veneer (installed without a channel for water to escape), plywood sheathing and insulation behind the veneer. As the condo was twelve years old, they had to strengthen some wall joists plus two new windows.
This article documents the punchlist for my new Florida house, which I closed on two days ago. You might wonder why I went ahead with the closing?
That's easy. My confidence that the builder will complete everything with quality in a reasonable amount of time is gone. It's taken 9 months to complete what should have been a 4 month build process and I was tired of waiting, with lots of schedule dependencies in jeopardy. You'll see that I was really buying the shell of a house, with plans to gut and replace the kitchen, bathrooms and flooring (you can watch that story here …).
So here's what should be inspected before you close on your new home, to create a punchlist that ideally a builder will complete before the closing. In fact I pushed my closing out to get a majority of these items done but oops, done … but done wrong?
- Kitchen cabinets and countertops – ignored because these were ripped out a few hours after closing.
- Kitchen appliances – ignored because as my appliance guy said, they're “bottom of the barrel”. The GE dishwasher was too noisy …
- Bathroom cabinets, countertops, light fixtures and tile installation – ignored everything (ripping out) except the tile. We're still fighting over the horrible installation which you can read about here, Shower Wall Tile Done Wrong.
- Interior doors and trim – got lots of focus except for the baseboard which will be replaced after the tile flooring installed.
- Flooring – ignored as I'm pulling everything out to have wall-to-wall-tile installed for less than half the upgrade quote the builder gave me.
- Painting – is absolutely critical. I was shocked to find the tops and bottoms of doors not painted! With my handyman business, I often reminded homeowners that the #1 reason to paint is to protect wood (read Water & Wood Rot: Repair Rotted Wood Door Bottom).
- Electrical – critical and most lights tested (no fixtures for island pendants and garage coach lights). The home inspector checked every outlet for power and just realized I forgot to check all the wall switches yet.
- Plumbing – tested indoor faucets, toilets and the home inspector testing the bathtub and shower, including the drains flowing freely.
- HVAC (heat pump) – covers the units (an air handler inside, a compressor outside) is the most important component of your home. The home inspector checked the heat and most important, that cool air was coming out of every ceiling grille.
- Roof – was checked by the home inspector with a ladder outside and climbing into the attic to see if there had been any roof leaks. He also checked the vents to the outside and the attic insulation while up there.
- Siding – was inspected, from the exterior walls and trim to the patio, driveway and landscaping including the irrigation system.
- Exterior doors and windows – identified problems with door locks and safety issues with the windows (details below).
- Landscaping – is important because I'm not an avid gardener and wasn't happy with the sod installation. You can learn more by checking out the landscaping items on my punchlist below.
Punchlist for Home Built by Richmond American Homes, Florida
This punchlist was created a week before the closing. Then the closing was pushed from Tuesday to Friday, to make time to complete a majority of the problems identified. Sadly (and typical), some of the sub-contractors have taken care of their items but most have not … and 2 weeks later, the list still hasn't been entered into Richmond American Home's warranty system.
So I'm tracking everything online with the hope that it will provide more incentive for them to complete things faster? Sad when the contract was signed in August, work started in September and now it's May. This production house has taken longer than a custom house I built years ago!
|4/26||4/29||Stakes showing property line critical for closing, irrigation & sod|
|5/2||Reclaimed water from irrigation system spraying into neighbor's pool|
|4/29||Unable to lock patio door; screens prevent opening; screws not set properly|
|5/10||Solution needed asap for hundreds of bugs getting into house|
|Open||Closed||Kitchen Cabinets, Countertops & Appliances|
|4/29||4/29||Replacing the “free” builder cabinets, countertops & appliances with better quality ones, so I didn't inspect them …|
|4/29||4/29||Like the kitchen, replacing bathroom vanities, sinks & faucets so the inspection focused on the shower & bathtub tile.|
|4/29||5/8||Installer asked for list of master shower tiles to replace; list provided 5/8|
|4/29||All listello tile needs to be replaced plumb & consistent grout lines|
|4/29||All bullnose that was cut with jagged lines need to be replaced|
|4/29||Solid white pieces at ground level need to be replaced with tile|
|4/29||5/8||Guest bathtub tile needs to be redone|
|Open||Closed||Interior Doors & Trim|
|4/29||Front door handle inside remains stuck in down position|
|5/6||Front door difficult to lock – have to pull door towards in order to lock|
|4/29||Front door hinges loose & under-driven screws|
|4/29||Guest bathroom hinge pins are under driven|
|4/29||5/6||Guest bathroom switch plate missing|
|4/29||Painter said they can't remove finish nail sticking out on pantry door|
|4/29||Green tape marking trim problems like hinge screws & door handles|
|4/29||… Front entry closet door handle – gap on handle inside closet|
|4/29||… Master bathroom toilet – hinge screws under driven|
|4/29||… Master bedroom closet – hinge screws under driven|
|4/29||Wall switch in side bedroom is tilted with lower portion flush with wall|
|4/29||Hallway outlet near garage door missing plate|
|4/29||Door from garage to house – strike plate needs adjusting|
|4/29||Door from garage to house hard to close – prefer auto close|
|5/10||Garage door into house needs new lock; then keyed to match other lock|
|4/29||5/10||Garage doors have no handles besides rope; rejected by builder|
|4/30||Open junction on garage ceiling (near front door) needs plate|
|4/30||Gaps where wires exit house on garage walls need to be sealed|
|4/30||Hallway bathroom door latch catches when you open or close door|
|5/7||Master bedroom wall (3-4 ft) opposite dining room is bowed near floor|
|5/7||Kitchen island pony wall (almost entire island) is bowed near floor|
|Open||Closed||Drywall & Painting|
|4/29||Interior doors (13) need tops & bottoms painted|
|4/29||Trim wrapping around doors not painted when not visible|
|4/29||5/7||Doorway trim on door into master bedroom; single coat, not sanded|
|4/29||Trim under HVAC closet door|
|4/29||Ordered telescoping inspection mirror to make checking doors easier|
|4/29||Several doors aren't smooth – not sanded & 2nd coat of paint?|
|4/29||5/3||… Back of master closet door|
|4/29||… Back of guest bath door|
|4/29||… Back of bi-fold doors in front bedroom|
|4/29||… Front of entry closet door|
|4/29||5/3||Linen closet door splotchy – looks like it was closed before paint had dried|
|4/29||Front closet door has gouges on side; good progress but more work needed|
|4/30||5/10||Floor of HVAC closet needs to be painted; builder rejected|
|4/29||Stucco around patio door needs to be caulked & painted|
|4/29||Blue tape marking paint problems (sometimes inside closets or next to hinges)|
|4/29||5/14||After waiting 2 weeks, the battle is over as my painters come tomorrow!|
|4/29||Green tape marking drywall problems – walls, window sills & inside closets|
|4/29||5/14||My painters & I will need to correct most remaining problems!|
|4/29||5/3||Drywall patch needed for outlet opposite HVAC closet|
|5/8||Extra paint for touch-ups as front door already needs help; Paul asked me to provide paint colors (have to dig out of contract for “elevation”)|
|5/8||… Exterior doors – front door & garage door|
|… Exterior walls – stucco walls, belly band & back patio floor (needed now)|
|5/8||… Interior – only trim paint|
|Open||Closed||Electrical, Plumbing & HVAC|
|4/29||4/29||Garage wall switch requires me to step into garage; rejected by builder|
|4/29||5/3||Outlet opposite HVAC closet needs to be reinstalled|
|4/29||5/7||Outlet for kitchen pantry needs to be moved (replacement door swing)|
|4/29||Wall switch plate is an undescribable mess … bottom flush with wall?|
|4/29||4/30||Hot water heater lacks expansion tank, pressure relief valve (PRF) outside|
|4/29||Hot water heater lacks drain pan under unit – rejected by builder|
|4/30||4/30||Home inspector reviewed PRV & temperature pressure relief valve (TPR)|
|4/29||5/10||HVAC air handler needs secondary drain pan under unit – rejected by builder|
|4/30||Debris seen in return air plenum under air handler, should be cleaned out|
|4/29||4/29||Attic baffles made from cardboard? Rejected by builder|
|Open||Closed||Roof, Siding, Driveway & Sidewalks|
|4/29||Fascia sticking out – corners & other places around roof edge|
|4/29||Step into garage has lots of missing concrete|
|5/10||Inside edge below patio door a mess!|
|4/29||Sidewalk has 3 sections with significant cracks; poured new sidewalk but won't close until connection joints done|
|4/29||5/10||Sidewalk connector joints too narrow (cut 4 days after pour); rejected by builder|
|5/2||Driveway apron has crack|
|4/29||Cracks in back patio covered up by texture & paint; paint already peeling|
|4/30||Dryer exhaust duct has screen that has to be removed|
|Open||Closed||Exterior Doors & Windows|
|4/29||Patio screen door locks missing & needed on both ends|
|4/29||Patio screens (2 of 3) ripped – one at bottom; second one at eye level|
|5/5||Patio door/screens letting hundreds of bugs inside house|
|4/29||Windows (11) have rough metal edges that need to be smoothed out|
|5/5||Window screens don't seal openings & hundreds of bugs getting inside house|
|4/29||Smaller window in master bedroom (near bathroom) can't be locked easily|
|4/29||Larger windows difficult to lock/unlock – rejected by builder|
|4/29||Several windows noisy when opened/closed – marked with green tape|
|4/29||… Front bedroom – noise lower right|
|4/29||… 3 (4 total) windows in master bedroom|
|4/29||… Side bedroom|
|4/29||4/30||Don't like grids on front window! Oops, missed when picking elevation|
|4/30||Study window very loose in the frame, per home inspector|
|4/30||Window screw plugs (6 or more per window) missing everywhere|
|4/29||Window frames have bumps – marked with green tape|
|4/29||… Study window bump on lower left|
|4/29||… Family room window near interior wall, on upper right|
|5/8||Unable to lock family room window (small, center one)|
|Open||Closed||Landscaping & Irrigation|
|4/26||Neighbor bush must be cut back to property line following stake line|
|4/26||5/5||Ground must be scraped back to property line|
|4/26||Repair (or replace) irrigation valve broken when my lot was scraped|
|4/26||5/3||Sod is missing on right side (possibly left too) where ground not scraped|
|4/26||Sod is needed to cover mud ripped up by bobcat|
|4/26||Irrigation must be corrected to cover ground up to lot lines|
|???||Sod installed poorly – back slope should be stapled to hold in place|
|4/26||Sod not laid out properly (brick pattern) so lots of gaps in coverage|
|4/26||Sod has brown spots (Japanese beetles?)|
|5/8||Irrigation control covers in ground must fit tight to prevent tripping|
|4/29||Warranty cards missing for many items|
|4/29||Garage door – no paperwork left|
|4/29||Front door – no paperwork found|
|4/29||Patio door (4-panel)|
|4/29||Hot water heater|
|4/29||Rainbird irrigation system|
|4/29||5/8||Appliance documents given to new owner|