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Streamlined Snag/Punch List Process for Top Fit-Out Contractors

Image of Burns Puzon, Head of Sales & Marketing
Burns Puzon, Head of Sales & Marketing

Entering the construction industry, in general, is not difficult. Turning a construction business profitable and very successful, however, is a challenge. This applies to all sorts of contractors, more so for fit-out contractors like you. Faced with tough competition, you need to stand out from the crowd and leave a (good) mark on your construction projects, whether it’s an office fit-out or a retail fit-out or a restaurant fit-out, or an industrial fit-out. Being a top fit-out contractor means projects come to you from your existing client base or from word-of-mouth from previous clients. 

In addition to being easy to work with and ensuring fit-out projects are on time and on budget, how else can you position your company in this highly-competitive environment? 

Streamlining your snag list or punch list process can do the trick. 


What exactly is snagging? 

Snagging is a slang term used in the construction industry which is basically a process of internal inspections to arrive at a list (called a snag list or punch list, depending on where you’re located) of minor defects or missing components in a construction project for the contractor to address. While snagging is not something you write in a contract nor is there a universally agreed-upon meaning, in general, this process takes place around two weeks or so before an area is considered complete by a contractor (called practical completion) and is offered ready for inspection. 

A snag list is prepared and issued by one of the project leads – most of the time it’s the project architect, contract administrator, or developer’s agent. The issues that are identified in the snag list should be corrected before a certificate of practical completion is issued. 

It is critical during snagging that records are properly dated and acknowledgments from the contractor are filed. For fit-out contractors, meticulous detailing of these issues is needed in order for them to properly rectify the snags. It’s also critical for them to see how the additional work may affect the project budget. Meanwhile, for developers/clients/owners need to properly monitor the status of each issue, and ensure that the rectification is done within the timeline.  

Improper management of the snagging process may mean defects that can translate to litigation even long after the project completion or client handover. While for some projects, the risk of litigation may be a stretch, it can still affect your reputation as a reliable fit-out contractor and you may risk losing new opportunities because your snagging process is not streamlined. 


The Problem with Manual Snag Lists or Punch Lists 

Most construction companies today manually create snag lists or punch lists using a spreadsheet (well, maybe some still use a pre-printed sheet of paper). This is an administrative nightmare, to begin with. In addition to the spreadsheet, there is also an exchange of photographs via email or messaging apps (like Viber or Whatsapp) to give the contractor a better (literal) picture of what they need to address. Much worse, this way of managing the snagging process also doesn’t necessarily provide insight into the cause of the issue. 

If you only notice a defect right before the practical completion, how would you know who (among the numerous subcontractors or trades who worked on the fit-out project) is responsible?


The Case for a Digital Construction Snag List 

Let’s look at an alternative scenario where your team used a digital version of a construction snag list.  

In this scenario, all the stakeholders of your fit-out project (project architects, site managers/supervisors, workers, and even the developer or client) all use a digital task management tool. Snagging can be done progressively and not just towards the end of the project. This means the fit-out team can be notified and address the issue almost immediately, and it’s done properly because the defect or inconsistency noted in the digital snag list is well-documented.   

With a construction management software like Steer, the design or floor plans of your fit-out are accessed and all the snags are properly tagged in the right location. For example, one of the workers who is installing parquet tiles notices that the floor is uneven. With their mobile phone with Steer installed in it, they can take a photo and immediately send the snag to the site manager. Before they even continue, the site manager can have the issue fixed first so that the said worker will not be held responsible for something that they did not do in the first place. 

These small issues (which really, can add up if you don’t manage them properly) can be captured by anyone who sees them with a smartphone or tablet and it is automatically added as a task to your snag list.  

The snags are listed in Steer as a ticket, which holds a lot of pertinent information for all parties to have better visibility over the fit-out project. The information made available for everyone includes – but is not limited to – images, a filled-out form of whoever spotted the snag, and a means to assign the snag to another worker who will perform the repair. And lastly, the status of the snag can be monitored so you know whether a task has been completed. 


The Benefits of Digital Construction Snag Lists for a Fit-Out Contractor 

The truth is that no matter how good you are as a fit-out contractor (including your subcontractors or trades), issues or snags are bound to happen. It’s really how you manage them that will separate you from any other fit-out contractor that most likely scrambles to manage their snag lists – and much worse, hide the defects from the client.  

Overall, this heightened level of transparency or visibility within your company as well as with your client (whether it’s a developer or the owner) will definitely boost your reliability as a fit-out contractor. It means that you are proactively addressing issues with the client, and not just doing your job and hoping they won’t find the issues you left unaddressed. The progress is monitored by all parties anytime, anywhere, and on any device (mobile, tablet, desktop or laptop browser). This also ensures that you get paid on time because there are no delays in reporting and you and the client see the output (both planned and to address these defects) in real-time.  

In addition to this, having a digital construction snag list also enables you to save money, time, and effort because you can actually address issues as they appear. Rework when the project is almost complete is almost always more expensive than rectifying a defect before another task is performed.  

Snag list or punch list management online also means that each issue is well-documented, preventing additional rework because you are able to correct the wrong the first time around. You also get to the bottom of each defect, which can also give you insights into the overall quality of each worker or subcontractor. This can help determine whether you need to replace them while the fit-out project is still running or get another worker or subcontractor for your future fit-out projects or simply inform them so they can do better next time. 


Connected Construction for Fit-Out Contractors 

To streamline your snag list or punch list process by going digital is one of the many things within a larger digital transformation (aka connected construction) initiative that fit-out contractors like you should consider. Digital transformation in the construction industry (aka connected construction) involves so many different activities other than snag list management. For fit-out contractors, one other major process that is ripe for digital transformation is change order management. 

Steer seeks to help fit-out contractors (as well as general contractors and developers/owners) go digital through its holistic construction management software that is robust, flexible, and affordable. The construction industry is one of the laggards when it comes to digital transformation, and Steer wants to change that by providing a solution that is not only easy to implement and use, but is also built to scale as your company grows into a top fit-out contractor. 

To learn more about how Steer can help, feel free to book a demo. We also have a monthly newsletter that features a lot of helpful articles on connected construction which you can subscribe to, free of charge. And lastly, you can follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook to get quick updates on anything about connected construction. 

Mobile Snagging Management Software | Project Consultant App

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