360 Reality Capture: Understand Your Real ROI

How an Owner Manages Punch Lists and Captures Observations with Field Notes

By Richard Acton-Maher

For Baton Rouge, La.-based developer Kurt Miller, compiling and staying on top of punch list items used to be a hugely complicated ordeal that required dozens of hours on-site to ensure that every problem had been addressed.

First, he and his team at Amesbury Companies would walk the site to physically inspect each component. They would affix blue painter’s tape to problematic areas, which could be anything from a missing door stopper to a missing ceiling exhaust fan to a toilet that wasn’t flushing properly. From there, they would make notes on items (always numbering in the hundreds for their multi-family residential projects in Louisiana and Texas) and compile them in an Excel spreadsheet. 

Then, after providing the spreadsheet to the general contractor and assigning deadlines, they would have to walk the site again to double-check and sometimes even triple-check that every item had been resolved to their satisfaction. Only then could they hand the project over to the operations team to begin selling or leasing units.

OpenSpace’s Field Notes feature has changed all of that. Instead of the painter’s tape and manual note-taking approach, Kurt and his team can simply take pictures or jot down comments from the OpenSpace app and have them automatically pinned to the floor plan. From there, they can add the name of the person on the GC or trade side who’s responsible for addressing the issue, set due dates and priority levels, and create custom tags. (For example, Kurt’s team has been using an “architecture” tag to make it easy to compile all punch items that need to be reviewed by the architect.) Finally, the team can generate PDF reports to circulate to relevant stakeholders in just a few clicks, and these can be filtered based on tags and other parameters. 

Kurt’s team doesn’t use cumbersome spreadsheets to organize punch lists anymore. With Field Notes, GC personnel and trade partners can update on the status of an item and send pictures to confirm that work is complete—all within the thread of the original Field Note. In many cases, Kurt and his team can close out a punch item using Field Notes without having to be on-site to verify that items have been resolved. 

The Amesbury Companies team has used Field Notes to streamline punch lists for two projects so far, and the technology has made their final inspections far less time-intensive. Kurt also expects Field Notes to reduce the need for out-of-state travel since much of the usual work involved in managing punch lists can now be facilitated remotely.

“Our final walks have only 10% to 15% of the items they would otherwise have since we handle all the simple ones with Field Notes,” he said.

Kurt is also an avid user of Field Notes for capturing field observations during the construction phase. When buildings are still going up, he documents any significant structural and quality control issues he notices (e.g., precarious beams or a roof that hasn’t been closed) and gathers them in a PDF report to share with the GC, lender, and third-party inspector for discussion at their next draw meeting.

“Field Notes reports are like a single source of truth that helps keep everyone on the same page,” he said.

Field Notes help owners like Kurt, as well as GCs and trade partners, to improve a variety of workflows—from streamlining punch lists to speeding up RFIs to keeping track of observations. Learn about the latest features released for Field Notes.