One of the killers for any construction professional is dealing with the mandatory punch list at the end of a job. The work is done, but the client draws up a grocery list of items that need further attention — items that eat straight into the company’s time and profits.
Long subjected to the standard operating procedure of returning to a job to take care of the punch list, Jerome Quinn and Carl Seville of Atlanta-based SawHorse, lamented the possibility of removing it all together, making the job smoother, more profitable and less of a burden to the client.
They developed the “Zero Punch” program. And currently, the company is punch-list-free in more than 60 percent of its projects (and very close in most others).
This program begins with the vision to lead clients to their goals, identifying and addressing problems as they arise, so the end of the job is a celebration instead of a checklist. “We have to explain what it means,” Quinn says. “We work with the client to make sure they understand they’re part of the team. We both have roles to make this successful,” Quinn says.
SawHorse provides fixed price contracts with no allowances, designing and specifying down to the last detail, such as paint and tile pattern. By clearly stating goals and keeping in constant communication with the client, SawHorse can closely monitor the project as it progresses. In addition to the client, it also requires the dedication of the entire staff.
“It’s not tricks and techniques,” says Quinn. “It’s a process. If you’re implementing it, you need to see it as a companywide effort.” He notes that accounting must turn out invoices, materials must be ordered on time, etc. All members of the team must work together to avoid potential punch items. In the 40 percent or so cases where there are a few issues, it usually has to do with defective products.
SawHorse has also implemented the EarthCraft House Renovations program. Seville chaired a committee made up of local contractors and building scientists from the Southface Energy Institute to adapt the existing new construction program into a remodeling program. Sawhorse completed pilot projects, and it has expanded throughout the Atlanta area.
“At a lot of levels, it’s more complicated because you’re dealing with conditions that already exist,” Seville says. But he believes green building is the direction the industry is going to go. Homeowners and buyers are ever more sensitive to energy efficiency, moisture control and air quality. For SawHorse to pioneer EarthCraft was an aggressive step and a catalyst for the green industry — which Seville equates to the design/build industry of 15 years ago — and it also has allowed the company to market itself to clients looking for healthier, more efficient homes.
Full-time employees: 29
Industry memberships: NAHB, NARI
Annual design/build projects: 90 percent
Residential remodeling: 90 percent
Average annual revenue
(including sales, overhead): $6 million