The Subcontractor’s Guide to Construction Punch Lists

By Lisa Kopochinski

At some point in every construction project—no matter how large or small—a punch list must be created. That is, a document that shows all the parties involved what tasks need to be completed. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially when there are numerous players involved.

What is a Punch List?

The term “punch list” is an old one that comes from the antiquated process of punching holes in a list to mark which items needed fixing.

Created by the general contractor usually at the beginning of a project, the punch list basically ensures that all “must haves” and “must dos” are completed. While punch lists differ for every project, there are always three components: location, name of task, and a deadline.

Essentially, the construction industry uses punch lists to prevent projects from spiraling out of control. Collaboration between team members—general contractor, project owner, architect, and subcontractors—is vital so that all tasks can be tracked and recorded when completed.

Many items can be added to a punch list such as interior or exterior issues; incorrect installations, like flooring and carpentry; mechanical issues related to thermostats, ductwork and appliances; anything that was damaged during the course of the project; and any unaddressed items outlined in the original contract.

Since no project will ever be perfect, contractors may make a distinction between reasonable flaws (minor, insignificant flaws that still meet contract specifications) and unreasonable flaws (errors that must be fixed). A punch list identifies unreasonable flaws for corrections, while larger issues are usually addressed through a change order.

Punch lists also help to justify retainage (also called retention), which refers to the amount of money that is deliberately withheld at the end of a project to ensure the contractor follows up on the list and completes all work. Additionally, retainage also helps to ensure that all work is on par with everything that was outlined and agreed upon in the contract.

The Construction Punch List Process

Once the punch list has been completed and distributed to all involved parties, time is then allotted for fixing any issue, followed by another walkthrough of the project with the general contractor and owner. If no further issues need to be addressed, the owner will then sign off on the punch list for the work to be considered fully completed.

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California STEM Building Project Reaches Big Milestone

By Lisa Kopochinski

ANAHEIM, Calif.— Canyon High School’s new state-of-the art S.T.E.M. classroom building in Anaheim recently marked a significant milestone with the final steel beam being lifted into place.

The final beam, signed by students, staff and administrators, as well as community members and elected officials who supported the project, “topped out” the initial construction as it was ceremoniously placed.

“The topping out of the Canyon High School S.T.E.M. complex is a momentous occasion for the Orange Unified community,” said Orange Unified School District (OUSD) Superintendent Gunn Marie Hansen. “As superintendent, I couldn’t be more pleased to see the progress being made on the beautiful, top-notch facilities that our students, staff and residents deserve.”

Gafcon Inc. is providing construction management services during all phases of this project that includes a new two-story, 67,098-square-foot science, technology, engineering and mathematics building and the conversion of an existing administration building into a new food services and kitchen facility.

With a completion date slated for winter 2021, this $42.5 million project also includes a new entry in the campus’ multi-purpose building; a student parking lot and drop-off expansion; upgraded utility, technology, data, and communication infrastructure; and Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades.

“These 12 new classrooms and laboratories at Canyon High School will inspire learning in OUSD students for decades to come,” said Gafcon Senior Project Manager Michael Lengyel. “We are proud to partner with OUSD and happy to have provided creative and strategic solutions that contributed to more than $1.5 million in savings for the District.”

Those savings were delivered several ways:

  • By implementing the use of ConXtech modular steel framing system, about $500,000 in materials costs and inspections were saved, as was about six weeks of construction.
  • Using one bid package in the design-bid-build model, instead of four as originally planned, created cost savings for the bid preparation, contractor general conditions and overhead. It also meant only one general contractor — not four — was needed onsite.
  • The use of a temporary modular kitchen facility instead of a temporary modular building to house the school’s administrative staff during construction resulted in a cost savings of about $900,000.

This is one of four Measure S bond-funded projects to the District’s four high school campuses. Gafcon is working with Swinerton Builders and architecture firm CannonDesign on the project.

The Subcontractor’s Guide to Construction Punch Lists

By Lisa Kopochinski

At some point in every construction project—no matter how large or small—a punch list must be created. That is, a document that shows all the parties involved what tasks need to be completed. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially when there are numerous players involved.

What is a Punch List?

The term “punch list” is an old one that comes from the antiquated process of punching holes in a list to mark which items needed fixing.

Created by the general contractor usually at the beginning of a project, the punch list basically ensures that all “must haves” and “must dos” are completed. While punch lists differ for every project, there are always three components: location, name of task, and a deadline.

Essentially, the construction industry uses punch lists to prevent projects from spiraling out of control. Collaboration between team members—general contractor, project owner, architect, and subcontractors—is vital so that all tasks can be tracked and recorded when completed.

The Construction Punch List Process

Many items can be added to a punch list such as interior or exterior issues; incorrect installations, like flooring and carpentry; mechanical issues related to thermostats, ductwork and appliances; anything that was damaged during the course of the project; and any unaddressed items outlined in the original contract.

Since no project will ever be perfect, contractors may make a distinction between reasonable flaws (minor, insignificant flaws that still meet contract specifications) and unreasonable flaws (errors that must be fixed). A punch list identifies unreasonable flaws for corrections, while larger issues are usually addressed through a change order.

Punch lists also help to justify retainage (also called retention), which refers to the amount of money that is deliberately withheld at the end of a project to ensure the contractor follows up on the punch list and completes all work. Additionally, retainage also helps to ensure that all work is on par with everything that was outlined and agreed upon in the contract.

Once the punch list has been completed and distributed to all involved parties, time is then allotted for fixing any issue, followed by another walkthrough of the project with the general contractor and owner. If no further issues need to be addressed, the owner will then sign off on the punch list for the work to be considered fully completed.

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Bob and Me

By Lisa Kopochinski

Bob McLaughlin, 97, and his good friend Lisa Kopochinski
with Pupsy Doodle (in her pink sweater) and Duke.
Photo by Renee Morales.

It’s not every day you meet a 95-year-old walking down the street. But that’s just what happened one somewhat chilly day back in November 2008.


I was out for my usual Saturday morning walk, with my 11-year-old daughter and five-pound Chihuahua, on our way to Starbucks, a favorite haunt of mine for the past decade.

An empty foreclosed house caught my attention. Being a journalist and, hence, inquisitive by nature, (although my mother and husband prefer the term “nosy”) I decided to investigate what the property had to offer. As I turned around, after peering in the front window, an elderly gentleman in a feathered fedora and with a black schnauzer in tow, came walking up the street towards us. Just when I thought I would be lectured on trespassing, I attempted to extract myself from what would certainly be an unpleasant interchange, bran-dished the biggest smile I could and chirped, “Hi!”

Before I could make my getaway, this gentleman said “hi” back and challenged me to guess his age. Guess I wasn’t in trouble after all. With a sigh of relief, I replied, “I don’t know. Eighty-five?”

“Nope,” he replied. “Ninety-five.” That moment was the start of a wonderful friendship that has endured the past 18 months—full of hours of conversation, hundreds of cups of tea, countless cookies and peanut butter cups, delicious lunches at Hof Brau and some great dinners at Red Lobster and the Buggy Whip.

What can I say about Robert D. McLauglin? Well, for starters, I think he is Superman. He is one of the most interesting people I have ever met and there isn’t much he doesn’t know. He’s a walking, talking history book.

Born December 13, 1912 in Hope, ND, his birthplace is only 170 miles from my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Quite interesting when you consider the millions of people in this state and how few I have met from the northern states even after living here for 19 years.

Bob is nearly 50 years older than me and, while the age difference is obviously apparent, it’s not as apparent as you might think. Ours definitely is not a grandfather-granddaughter relationship (even though my own grandparents were born in 1913 and 1914 respectively.) We are simply friends and the half-century differ-ence doesn’t make an ounce of difference. We talk together as friends, joke as friends and tell each other things just as friends do.

What amazes me is his life experience and ability to tell me about them. I mean, who has driven a brand new 1936 Ford V8 right off the showroom floor and is still around to brag about it?

Who can tell you, from personal observation, that General Patton was a pompous ass. (These are my words. Bob is too polite to say that, although his description of George pretty much summed this up.) Who can tell you they recall seeing the Queen of England—when she was a princess yet!—riding around in a jeep in Manchester, England during WWII?

And, who can talk about their war bride, Joyce, who sailed across the Atlantic at the young age of 20 to start a new life with a new husband in a new land? Chutzpah like that is rare today.

I have also had the pleasure of meeting Bob’s kids, Pat and Bob, and their spouses, Larry and Jane, all who have been nothing but gracious towards my daughter Renee and I. If it were me—and some strange woman suddenly appeared in my dad’s life—I probably would have interrogated her about her intentions and scared her off. But no, the “kids” have been so nice to me that I am looking forward to Bob’s 98th birthday party this December when I can see them all again.

It’s no wonder I consider Bob to be Superman. Though blind in one eye and quite deaf, I hope to be as spry as he is at 80—never mind 97! So many people half his age can’t walk the daily mile he does with his best friend Duke. This formidable duo is a force to be reckoned with as they make their way around the neighborhood each and every day, rain or shine.

Like his owner or “daddy” (as Bob prefers), Duke is the sweetest thing. At first I think he just tolerated the visits from me and my unruly and neurotic Chihuahua Pupsy Doodle. Ever the gentleman—like Bob—Duke has allowed this creature to invade his home, eat his food and drink his water, without as much as a growl. As a result, I actually think the two have formed a bond, which is no small feat considering that Pupsy’s personality leaves a lot to be desired. No “Miss Congeniality” is she! But you should hear her howl in the car as we pull up to Bob and Duke’s house. My diminutive she-devil gets so excited that she transforms herself into a toy-sized coyote, only to be met by an equally enthusiastic canine with his own shrill set of vocal cords. Bob likes to say these are “love calls.”

As for vocal cords, did I mention that Bob and I like to sing together? We should cut a CD. So far we have conquered “Blueberry Hill” and “We’ll Meet Again.” Next up is “Buttons and Bows.”

Yes, I hope our relationship endures for many more years. After all, we need a repertoire of at least 15 songs for our debut album.

Put a Label On It: The Benefits of Branding for Fence Companies

By Lisa Kopochinski

Anyone with their own business knows that the customer is king (or queen). To attract a steady clientele — and keep them — requires a strong business strategy, which is something fence contractors know well.

Branding is one of the areas that helps fence companies become and stay visible, in addition to providing a strong return on investment (ROI).

“Our company has been serving our state for over 48 years and branding has been a huge part of our success,” says Paige Ginn, president of Jefcoat Fence Co., Inc., which is based in Pearl, Miss.

“From the beginning, we were committed to providing company branding on anything we used traveling our roads. Whether it’s an install truck, service vehicle or sales truck, we have them all bumper-to-bumper in company branding. We also feel it’s very important to brand every job we install, so we place a custom company sign on every job.”

Ginn adds that branding is not just for vehicles, but employees, too.

“Our employees are a beautiful display of branding. They are always dressed in company apparel leaving a professional image with every customer they encounter. Branding is powerful. Use it with pride.”

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https://www.fencepost-digital.com/fens/0221_march_april_2021/MobilePagedArticle.action?articleId=1677849#articleId1677849

Project Spotlight: Westport Pile Driving

Timber piles were used in lieu of traditional rammed aggregate piers for this condominium project in Westport, Conn.

By Lisa Kopochinski

Norwalk Marine Contractors recently completed driving timber piles for a condominium project in Westport, Conn. for owner David Adam Realty—that was completed in less than 14 days.

“We began designing/estimating the project in August 2020,” says NMC Project Manager Kyle Andrew. While he is unsure of the entire contract amount of this project, NMC’s scope was approximately $140,000.

“We then broke ground in January and finished within two weeks. NMC provided a ‘value engineered’ timber inclusion system to save the project 40 percent in soil improvement cost. The original design was to provide a rigid inclusion to the transfer building load past the organic soils and into the gravelly sand stratum. Our team achieved this using timber pile inclusion.”

Timber Inclusion Explained

When asked to explain what timber inclusion involves, Andrew doesn’t miss a beat.

“Essentially, a timber inclusion works as a hybrid between a timber pile and a rigid inclusion. When there are layers of unsuitable soils, the timber pile penetrates the unsuitable soil and bears its tip into an underlying soil stratum, capable of supporting the above ground structure.”

Timber inclusions and rigid inclusions both utilize a Load Transfer Platform (LTP) consisting of structural fill to transfer the load from the building footings, through the inclusion, and into the bearing layer. The timber inclusion differs from a traditional rigid inclusion in the material being used. While the timber inclusion is made from pressure treated lumber, a rigid inclusion uses unreinforced grout or concrete to transfer the load to bearing stratum.

Click here to read more:

http://lesterfiles.com/pubs/PDCA/digital/2021/issue2/page_106.html

Project Spotlight: Manor Street Bridge

By Lisa Kopochinski

Work on the Manor Street Bridge project—which crosses over the river in Bakersfield, Calif.—is well underway. This follows a delay of nearly 18 months due to the flow of water in the Kern River, an area of the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains.

With a completion date slated for this Spring, this impressive project for the City of Bakersfield involves a seismic retrofit and repairs due to river debris damaging the superstructure of the bridge.

“This includes constructing new footings under the existing bridge footings installed on driven piling,” explains Jeff Bird, CEO and president at Forefront Deep Foundations, a PDCA member company based in Newport Beach, Calif. that specializes in driven piling, shoring and other deep foundation systems.

“We began work on the project this past October. The bridge is 616 linear feet long and consists of two separate adjacent structures—one for each direction of traffic. The Manor Street Bridge was originally constructed in 1957 and has a daily traffic count of over 10,750 vehicles.”

The cost of this project is approximately $9.3 million. However, the original contract—awarded to general contractor Security Paving in December 2018—is expected to increase because of the delay in the project start date.

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http://www.lesterfiles.com/pubs/PDCA/digital/2021/issue1/page_78.html

High Tech College Libraries

Completed in 2019, the $135 million Charles Library at Temple University in Philadelphia spans more than 200,000 square feet. Photo credit: Michael Grimm Photography, courtesy of Stantec.

By Lisa Kopochinski

Libraries have been centers for learning for centuries. These places of inspiration are the nucleus on many college campuses for students to learn and share ideas.

As the information gatekeeper, libraries have been challenged by technology and are repositioning themselves as cultural and learning centers for the digital age.

Cloud-based collections and applications, digital readers and open-source research data are challenging the notion of the traditional library. Technology frees up space and transforms modern libraries into immersive and collaborative experiences for knowledge sharing.

“College libraries are evolving quickly away from a ‘fixed’ technology model to a highly flexible model where technology is a pervasive overlay to all activities,” said David Zatopek, vice president at Corgan Associates, Inc., an architecture firm headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with offices across the U.S. and in London and Singapore.

Corgan redesigned the library at Northeast Community College—a public community college near Mount Pleasant, Texas—as part of a multi-phase campus-wide program.

Completed in 2017, this project was part of an ambitious $18 million bond program. Corgan’s design strategy for this project was to make technology both pervasive and transparent.

“Critical was the recognition that many students leverage different devices for different learning tasks, and that they ‘hand-off’ from one device to another over the course of the day,” explained Zatopek.

“We didn’t just design designated areas for technology, but designed throughout the project, flexible layouts and power distribution so that power for charging was at arm’s reach anywhere in the library. This required careful coordination with the furniture selections and detailing of the power data pathways.”  

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http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/a147a7aa#/a147a7aa/17

 

Construction Begins on New $8.5 Million Arkansas Detention Center

Construction is underway on a new $8.5 million Little River County Detention Center in Ashdown, Ark.

By Lisa Kopochinski

ASHDOWN, Ark.—Construction is underway on the new $8.5 million Little River County Detention Center in Ashdown.

Voters approved a bond in September 2019 to finance the new building and a sales tax to help pay for it. The new tax went into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The new jail will be located on U.S. Highway 71 on the north side of Ashdown, near Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas.

The Southbuild Team—which includes Spirit Architecture Group and Smith-Doyle Contractors—are building the detention center.

The current jail, located downtown next to the Little River County Courthouse, holds a maximum of 24 inmates. As a result, the Sheriff’s Office often houses inmates in other county jails, which leads to higher costs in housing and transportation, as well as lower felony bonds.

For nearly 15 years, leaders in Little River County have tried to get a new jail to house county inmates. The present facilities are not up to standard. As a result, the Arkansas Jail Commission has threatened to close the facility down.

“There are times in the summer that I will have inmates in up to seven different counties,” said Sheriff Bobby Walraven, in a statement. “We will be able to house them here and it will not be a burden on transporting and things of that nature.”

Added Judge Cranford, “[This project] shows the citizens have faith in what we are trying to do and we want to make sure we give them the type of facility they deserve.”

Crews are currently subgrading the property. When completed by Spring 2022, the facility will allow the county to increase bed space from 24 to 84 inmates.