Once the Boardroom and the executive offices were complete, there wasn't much more for me to do…except for the 'punch list'.
If you don't know, the punch list refers to the beginning stage for the final approval and acceptance of the building and all of its systems. The architect or his representative will examine the building, room by room and note any discrepancies. That list of discrepancies, the punch list, is then given to the various sub-contractors to use as they remedy…or challenge the items.
True, sometimes we didn't agree with the architect and negotiations would follow. We couldn't refuse to do the work, even if we thought there was an error because they held the final payment. The power of the purse.
In this case, the architect handed over the punch list duties to the owner. Violent disagreement erupted from all of our offices! The architect has a role to play and he is supposed to represent the owner. The architect has the duty to perform the punch list. Giving that duty to the owner wrong; legally and ethically. As subcontractors we were pretty low in the food chain and the architect had a duty to protect us from unscrupulous or ignorant owners.
After much discussion, it was resolved; the owner would perform the punch list under direct guidance of the architect. We weren't happy, but we did want our money and soon. So at least this part of the job would move forward.
We all (the subcontractors) knew when and where the owners inspection was going to begin and we waited eagerly to see how it was going work. The inspectors had been issued yellow Post-It notepads to identify the items that needed correction and we thought that made sense; after all, who wants to read items that might say, "Touch up paint NW corner of room 1123, 6" from corner and 47" from the floor". A Post-It note right on the offending spot would make it easy to send painters back to do the work.
The inspectors left the first room and we walked in to see… almost every visible portion of the walls and ceilings covered with yellow notes! Hundreds of them! Literally!
Another violent disagreement took place almost immediately as we stormed architect's trailer. We insisted that he come out to the room in question and see for himself. I can report that he was stunned and silent. And he quickly agreed with us. More training was given to the inspectors and after a few months of plucking yellow notes off of the walls, we were through!