After you’ve finished managing the construction process, you might feel like it’s time for a break. But you’ll need to hold out a bit longer — a solid construction project closeout checklist is essential to tie up loose ends and ensure every detail of the work went exactly as planned.

Creating a Solid Construction Project Closeout Checklist

After you’ve finished managing the construction process, you might feel like it’s time for a break. But you’ll need to hold out a bit longer — a solid construction project closeout checklist is essential to tie up loose ends and ensure every detail of the work went exactly as planned.

Just the act of creating and checking tasks off a list —whether it’s digital or done with pen and paper— can help you stay more organized throughout each step. Beyond organization, some of the top benefits for well-run construction timelines and project closeouts include:

  • Strong communication — When everyone is working off the same list, there will be plenty of check-ins letting each other know when steps are completed. This helps ensure that actions don’t go unnoticed, and possibly even more important, that no steps are forgotten along the way.
  • Improved timeliness — Construction project closeout checklists keep teams on track, leaving less time for delays occurring at each step.
  • Budget support — Unexpected repairs and tasks lead to more time spent on the job as well as more money spent. This can upset the client, lessen your profit by completion, or both. Thankfully, sticking to the closeout checklist helps avoid these budget mishaps as projects wrap up.
  • Better team management — A physical list improves the ability to effectively manage employers and subcontractor teams, whether it be about hours spent on the job site or specific tasks to complete.

So, it’s clear that construction project closeout checklists are beneficial. It’s also important to note they’re worth every second of the time you put into their creation process.

After all, these lists don’t take long to put together. Simply write or type the tasks your team was already planning on completing. You could even use a construction app for added efficiency and convenience throughout the process.

And closing construction projects is more important than ever in today’s busy industry. The statistics below show how much our work is needed, proving that closing work on time is essential, as we need to move onto our next task as quickly as possible:

Number of new housing units planned to be built in the United States

1.55 million

Number of new buildings per day our world needs to keep up with the growing population:


Percent of contractors who struggle to close the jobs they complete:


The demand for this work will continue to rise, making it easier to pick up extra jobs — and making closeout organization even more important. Below, we’ll share all the details to help you create a solid construction project closeout checklist on your own:

Step One: Substantial Completion

This is the phase where your checklist will begin. It’s likely a timeframe you’re familiar with, but we’ll share details of each task that occurs here just in case:

But first, it’s important to understand when this phase takes place. It most often begins as your project is nearing completion. The exact moment of this timing may be up to your discretion, or simply left to the timing that works best for you.

Project Punch Lists

The initial step here is to create a project punch list.

What is a punch list? This is basically just a document that shows the final steps in a project that need to be done. It helps during that stage where the work looks pretty nice, but there are still tons of tiny details that can’t be forgotten.

The list will likely also cover pieces of the project not approved as your team had hoped. Some things may need to be corrected or done differently after an inspection or client walkthroughs, or some things may have been forgotten along the way.

They’re not to be confused with change orders, as those are designed to cover bigger issues, and they’re likely already completed at this point in the project.

Punch lists are an official piece of the project. They’re written down to help every member of the team decide and see what needs to be done. The act of checking items off ensures nothing will be forgotten. They might even be attached to the certificate of substantial completion, which we’ll cover in more detail soon.

Who is responsible for punch lists? Typically, these are created by the company owner or manager. Then, some teams move forward by handing tasks internally, while others call on subcontractors to complete various aspects of the job.

The owner or manager will sign off on the punch list once it’s completed, giving a green light to move onto the next phase of the construction project closeout checklist.

The table below shows some interesting statistics regarding punch lists and this stage of the closeout process:

Percent of subcontractors who struggle to tie up jobs when the time comes


Percent of subcontractors who use technology to manage punchlists


Percent of subcontractors who create “punchlists as you go,” leaving less work to do at the end of the project:


Another interesting topic to look into is the most common punch list items in residential construction projects:

  • Installing missing hardware
  • Fixing cabinet doors and drawers that don’t open and close smoothly
  • Resolving stuck or improperly sealed windows and doors
  • Correcting misused paint colors
  • Installing missing locks
  • Fixing HVAC and electrical issues (functionality of light switches, thermostats, etc.)
  • Stopping leaks (roof, pipes, sinks, showers, etc.)

As you can see, these are small details that might not be obvious to a worker who has been on the job site for extended periods. Having that physical list in front of them helps ensure everything is in order and ready for the owners to move into their space.

Some tips to creating an excellent project punch list include:

  1. Keep punch lists in mind throughout the project — This might be more of something to ask your subcontractor teams to do, but it’s important not to forget about punch lists until the end of the project. If you install cabinets and the doors are a bit off, fix them right then and there. If doors or windows don’t close, do the same. When project closeout comes around, you’ll be glad those small tasks have already been completed.
  2. Clearly assign tasks to appropriate individuals — Just handing over a list can lead to confusion among project participants. Try assigning tasks to specific workers — or having your managers or supervisors do the same — to ensure no work is forgotten.
  3. Leave some time and funds for essential fixes — If fixes are larger than expected, it’ll be helpful to have a few extra days and dollars to get them done.
  4. Utilize technology to manage your list — If pen and paper feels a bit cumbersome, feel free to go digital with your construction project closeout checklist. Technology can provide a few helpful features, such as accessibility to all project participants, automatic filing once the list is complete, and task assignment as needed.

Inspections and Certificate of Occupancy

Next up in the construction project closeout checklist are final inspections — though there are plenty of inspections that occur throughout the process as well.

Even though they lead to more work —or repair requirements listed out by your inspectors— on your behalf, inspections are essential for project success. They ensure that all work was done properly and safely, protecting you from many legal issues down the road. They also ensure that your work fits specific requirements, whether that’s the city building code or state laws.

Some inspections are completed by the subcontractor team, while others are completed by trained general inspectors or industry-specific individuals. This is important because industry experts may notice details missed on the job site.

The most commonly performed construction site inspections include:

  • Specific inspection for HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc. (each of which is done earlier on, as the work is completed)
  • Inspection of the construction process — compliance with plans and project details
  • Documentation of subcontractor work that has been done
  • Daily job site inspection reports — and checks to ensure these were actually performed
  • Meeting and subcontractor scheduling inspections
  • Specific inspection for HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc.
  • Pain inspection
  • Ground coverings inspection — soil, concrete, asphalt, etc.
  • Semi-final and final inspection after requested tasks —and punch list tasks— have been completed
  • Handover inspection in the project closeout timeframe

The number of potential inspections gives a clear glimpse into how important this step is. Without it, safety and quality of homes just couldn’t be guaranteed.

After every inspection is completed and passed comes the certificate of occupancy. This is a document issued by local authorities, making it both official and essential to every project you complete. It shows the work you’ve completed is done up to local codes and standards, and the space is safe and ready for its new occupants to live in.

What a relief that paper must be after countless hours spent working, inspecting, and repairing your residential construction project. It also puts an end to the first stage of the construction project closeout checklist — substantial completion — and lets you move onto the stages that follow.

Step Two: Project Closeout

Next up in the process comes project completion. This stage requires all your documentation to be compiled and approved. Some paperwork that might be needed include:

  • A completed punch list
  • Testing, balance, and/or performance evaluations, and final approved reports
  • Operation and maintenance manuals, signed off by the owners
  • Accurate record drawings of the exact design that was built
  • Certification by owner stating where extra material and equipment was stored or returned
  • Warranties put in with contract documents
  • All security information accounted for and passed over — keys, pass codes, software details, etc.
  • PDF versions of the punch list, warranties, O & M manuals, extra supplies, trainings, inventory, etc.

As you can see, this stage is much more formal than the last. It includes no actual work, as that was all finished during substantial completion. This is more of the timeframe to wrap up paperwork and required documents before handing the house over to its new residents.

The phase will end with a closeout document written and signed, officially stating your construction project is finished.

It’s also the phase that leads to you getting paid for the work you completed, since in most cases this document is required to receive funds. This makes sense, since it’s the piece of paper that shows the client you actually performed the work they required.

Step Three: Final Completion, Payment, and Correction Process

What could possibly come after the legal completion of a project? Plenty of tasks can follow, even after it feels like a job should be completely finished. The beginning of this stage, however, is just more paperwork. It’s similar to what is done during the project closeout, but more on the wrap-up of the project and less on the tasks you’ve completed throughout the process.

This stage starts by issuing a certificate of final completion.

Then, the following checklist tasks will take place:

  • Clients make final payments on the project
  • You pay your workers, suppliers, and other project participants any final funds required
  • A certificate is given, stating the space needs to be insured within 45 days
  • You sign a written statement that says there is no known reason why the structure would not be eligible for insurance coverage
  • All waivers are released
  • Any other contractual agreements regarding payment, insurance, or final project completion are performed

Things will feel pretty official at this point, but you aren’t out of the water yet. The last stage of the construction project closeout checklist is the correction process.

Many things that go wrong in a home within a specific time frame after completion may need to be fixed by you or your subcontractor teams. In fact, timely wallkthroughs are often required, where you actually go back to the home and check to ensure everything is working properly. If it’s not, you can fix it right then and there on the spot.

The exact timelines for these checkins varies by state and general contractor. The fixes are free of charge, and they should be documented for future reference.

Whether this stage is required will be laid out in the contract you sign — both before your work begins and after your project has been completed.

All in all, the construction project closeout checklist is just as complicated as it is essential. It has tons of moving pieces, often overlapping each other’s timelines to add to its confusion. It’s important to plan ahead and have standards in place for how you and your team will get through these stages smoothly and successfully.

If you’re ever looking for help in the process, construction apps may be worth considering. For example, here at Rivet, we’ve developed tools that can support your team through complicated tasks:

  1. Communication — Rivet is a construction communication app designed to make conversations between project participants seamless. It works by organizing message threads by individual or group, and it can pull text messages into the platform for those workers who aren’t yet ready to join. Having a tool specifically designed for communication in this field makes it much easier to cover every detail of the construction project closeout checklist — with no tasks missed or forgotten.
  2. Organization — Rivet not only organizes your conversations, but also keeps your files and project documents safe. You can organize these important virtual papers by project, making it easy to find them if they’re needed in the future.
  3. Inclusivity — Rivet includes translation services, making it easy for every project participant to communicate, no matter what their strongest language may be. It can even translate text messages when they’re received and respond to through the software. Imagine the drop in missed details when everyone can speak in the language that works best for them.

If you’re ready to give Rivet a try, feel free to contact us today or download our app to have a look around. You may also want to check out this FAQ page for more information on the product, or view a few of the videos below that explain Rivet’s top features in further detail:

No matter how many steps your construction project closeout checklist has, Rivet is here to help you every step of the way. Let’s make our job wrap ups simpler and more efficient — one communication app login at a time.

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