Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Let the games begin.

Tomorrow is my last regular site visit to Wheatlands before the punchlists begin. For those who aren't familiar with the concept, a punchlist is both an object and a process. The architect walks around the building, or a portion of the building, and checks each room to make sure it's spot-on perfect. No dents or blobs of paint on the walls, no peeling plastic laminate on the counters and cabinets, no wrinkles in the wall base, no stains or kinks in the carpet, no dings in the ceiling tiles, all sprinklers and pipes in walls and ceilings have escutcheon get the picture. Anything that needs to be fixed is noted by the architect, either on a checklist or on a tape recorder, and they also often put a piece of painter's tape or small colored stickers next to the offending blemish. Sometimes the contractor walks with the architect, sometimes not. Then, the architect writes up the list (called a punchlist) and gives it to the contractor to be rectified.

My first punchlist is next week. What this means is that I've got to make the almost-seven-hour round trip to Wheatlands, Kansas and back to Denver once a week for the next six weeks instead of the usual every-other-week trip that I've made for the past ten months. Good thing I get reimbursed for mileage.


BaxterWatch said...

Don't forget to take a really bright flash light and some marbles.

The flash light is obvious. But you can see things with them that you'll miss normally.

The marbles will tell you if there's a significant grade to the floor.

of course, you know this already.

faded said...

You know, I have never done a punch list on a building. I was sitting here thinking about it. Is it a visual inspection to check for clean and proper appearance or is it a quality control activity verify proper functioning of the building?

If it is an appearance inspection you can walk thru the building and make notes or mark the building up.

If it is a quality control activity a walk thru won't do it. You will need to find a way to test the building. How responsive are the HVAC systems? Do the fire sensors work? How do you test a roof? How do you test a door?

Do you have a guy slam it 1,000 times? This would be testing the door as installed. The door may be tested and certified by the manufacturer but the door may suffer from a faulty installation and you would not see it because the problem is hidden in a wall.

A lot of this quality control is done informally as the building is built but the informal processes do not catch the unusual problems they may crop later with use or age. This process also will not reliably uncover poor skills or negligence

One thing that would help would to formalize the informal processes. Have everything documented in some way. This would dramatically improve the quality of the end product, but would add expense to the project.

If just the name of the person who installed each door was recorded you could look for patterns of problems and you might learn that all the doors that bind were installed by Joe. Then Joe could get some training to help improve his door installation skills. Then any job he does in the future will not have that problem. Joe could demand more money because he has better skills. You could be assured of better cost control on future projects because quality of people doing the work is always increasing.

Thanks for reading this pie in the sky bit. Now that I have thrown it into the air I expect it to fall and hit me on the head.

Mile High Pixie said...

You both bring up good topics, Bax and Faded. Before interior punch ever happens, we do a core-shell/structural punch where we check for sloping slabs and major catastrophes. Then my check is fairly extensive in that it is cosmetic and functional. Does the door close? Does it latch? Does it open easily too? Are there paint nicks or blobs? Is the water running? do the toilets completely flush and refill? Does the sink drip when water flows into the drain? Is the p.lam fully adhered? Surprisingly, I've never had to take a flashlight along---I'm a picky bitch when it comes to punchlisting, and I'll rip a piece of rubber wall base clean off to make sure you replace it without wrinkles. I go hands and knees in some places to make sure no one's pulling shoddy workmanship on me.

Miss Kitty said...

Weekly trips to Wheatlands can only mean one thing: WASTED DAY!!!!!! every Thursday!

Wilderness Gina said...

"Tear the whole thing out and rebuild it! This is shoddy workmanship! Journeyman carpenter my ass! By the way, we've got concrete/owners/money guys coming in 30 mins. I'd get on the stick if I was you."