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How to Use a Video Tape During a Punch List in New Construction

Rhonda Duffy

When you purchase a new home, you do a punch list with the builder noting paint, sheetrock, trim and other items that need to be repaired before closing. You as the buyer and the builder (via his superintendent) will sign a list of things to be done between this time and closing, and unfortunately sometimes after closing.

There are a couple of tips that you, as a buyer, need to know:

1. Make sure that as you are pointing these things out that you and/or your agent are also writing a list. You will be surprised to find that the superintendent looks like they are writing, but for some reason not all of the items are on the final list? At the end of your comparison, you sign the list, the superintendent signs the list and you take a copy of the punch list.

2. You will be marking paint problems, sheetrock issues and trim that needs to be repaired with blue painter’s tape. The superintendent will tell you several times that they have a rule for you to stand back 6 feet and see what you can find. Don’t do that. Get up close and demand that your home, no matter what price range, is done to your satisfaction. Ignore them when they tell you that the home is not going to be perfect. This is just their b.s.

Now, here is where the rub comes in, the blue tape items are not added to the punch list. So, after you make your marks with the blue tape for the painters to come back, make sure that you video where the blue tape is. I use a Flip camera. Flip cameras load directly to You Tube or AOL and/or my laptop directly and then I am able to take my laptop with the video to the house on the final walk-through. Make sure that the superintendent sees you video the house and that you are giving a narrative about where you are. Also, on your video, make sure that you state that you are at the punch list and give the date. This will be helpful if you find yourself in a legal dispute over anything with the builder in the future.

3. During the final walk-through 1-day before closing, use your list to see the results of the work that needed to be done. You should also view your video. Don’t be surprised if the painters took the tape off and did not do the work. That is where your video comes in.

4. If things are not done on the punch list and you are prepared to close, hold money in escrow from the builder along with a per diem rate that you will be paid if the work is not done in a timely manner. Have this written on an amendment and do not close until the builder signs this document.

Don’t be afraid to push on these folks. Builders have gotten away with shoddy work in the past because real estate agents want the deal to close smoothly and they don’t say anything combined with a very emotional buyer who is absorbed in the negative state of moving. It is very obvious to me when I listing a home that the seller bought new, and there was shoddy punch list.