What is a snagging list?
A snagging list, or a snagging survey, is an inspection carried out on new-build properties to find any issues or ‘snags’, like cracked paint or missing door handles. When you’ve compiled a list of all the issues, you can use it to get the developer to fix them before you buy the property.
The main purpose of a snagging list is to find minor or cosmetic issues that need fixing before you move in. However, you may well discover some major problems.
Who should get a snagging list?
You should only get a snagging list if you’re buying a new build property.
The purpose of a snagging list is to get the housing developers to complete further work to fix things that may have been missed or damaged in the building process. So, it’s not helpful if you’re buying an existing property.
When you’re buying an existing property, you certainly want to check for issues before you complete the sale. An existing property will tend to have more complex issues than a new build, caused either by the actions of the previous owners or through wear and tear. A Homebuyers report would be more suitable to check for these issues.
However, if building work is being done on the property you’re buying, you could consider creating a snagging list for these fresh areas, as they’re new and being worked on, much like a new build.
Do I need a snagging list?
You don’t have to make a snagging list when you’re buying a new build – but it’s a good idea to get one done.
While you may be expecting your new build to be a perfect new home, you may find that not everything is as it should be.
New-build properties tend to be built quickly, so issues can often be overlooked. Combined with the usual human error, your perfect new home may not be so perfect after all.
By making a snagging list, you’ll identify any of these issues before you move in. You can then use your findings to get the developers fix these problems, as they’re obligated to fix any issues.
A snagging list will give you peace of mind. If no problems are found, you can look forward to moving into your perfect new home. And any issues that you do find can be passed on to the developers and fixed, so you won’t get any nasty surprises when you move in.
When should I get a snagging list?
In any transaction, you’re always strongest as a buyer before you make the sale. The seller wants your money and will make accommodations to encourage you to give it to them. When you hand over your money, you lose your bargaining power.
The same is true when you’re buying new build property. That’s why the ideal time to make a snagging list is when the property is finished but before you’ve exchanged contracts. This is the time where you’ll have the most bargaining power over the developers to come out and fix things for you as they want to make the sale. Unfortunately, they’ll have less incentive to help you once you’ve paid them.
In any case, it’s simply easier to make a snagging list before you move in. First and foremost, it’s easier for developers to fix snags in an empty house before you move all your stuff into it. But it also means that the developers can’t argue that you caused any damages yourself.
However, it’s possible that the developers won’t let you view the property before completion. While this is unlikely, they don’t have a legal obligation to let you view the property. In this case, you’ll have to make a snagging list after you move in.
Can I do a snagging survey myself?
The best course of action when planning a snagging survey is to hire a Chartered Surveyor to conduct the inspection. A surveyor will have the best knowledge on building regulations and construction and will have experience in viewing properties and finding mistakes. There are certain surveyors that specialize in new build homes, so look out for one of them.
Of course, you’ll have to pay for these services, with a snagging survey generally costing between £300-£600 depending on the size of the property. As usual, we recommend comparing surveyor prices before choosing one to carry out your survey.
Alternatively, you can carry out the survey for yourself if you don’t want to pay for a surveyor. However, you’ll need to organize a time with the property developer to visit the site and carry out the survey. You must also make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for and do some research on building and construction beforehand. You could also send someone you know to carry out the snagging list on your behalf.
What should be included on a snagging list?
Regardless of who performs the inspection, these are the things that you should make sure they’re looking out for when making the snagging list.
The tiling of the roof should be inspected for any tiles that have come loose due to not being fixed down properly, or any that have been broken. Even a crack in a tile may cause problems later so it’s worthwhile pointing it out. Roof tiles are one of the most common issues found on a snagging list so they should be a priority.
Make sure that all the outside walls and fences are built sturdily. Remember that a wall/fence exists to keep your home secure and outline its boundaries, so make sure there are no holes or easily scalable or destructible areas.
Similarly, you need to make sure that any gates are sturdy and safe. Check the locks and how well they’re secured in place. You don’t want anyone to be able to force their way through.
It’s important that any outdoor piping on your property can function properly. This means making sure that water can flow through and drain properly, and the pipes won’t break or buckle under heavy rainfall.
After spending so much money on your house, it’s important that you enjoy the aesthetics. Be sure to check that any paint on the outside is evenly applied and pleasing to the eye. Patchy paintwork is another common problem found on new build homes! Check the brickwork is satisfactory and that they have applied acid wash correctly. If acid wash hasn’t been applied correctly, you may see white powdery marks across the brickwork.
If your property has a driveway, you’ll want to make sure it’s suitable for your vehicle. Is the ground even and is there enough space to fit in? Make sure the ground won’t cause damage to your car’s wheels. You’ll probably also want to see how easy it is to access the house from the driveway and how easy it is to access the driveway from the street. These are all things it’s important to be aware of before you move in, even if they’re not easily fixable before your completion date.
If your property has a garage, you should check the ease of access and whether its size is suitable for your needs. You should also be checking the doors and any windows to see if they’re sturdy, if they open and close easily, and if they have satisfactory locks. You might want to also check the cosmetics of the garage, making sure the paint or brickwork are in good condition.
Unless your new home is open plan, it will have plenty of doors. So, you should make sure that you test each one for possible problems. Open and close them to make sure they’re fitted properly and there are no issues with the hinges. You should also make sure that the gap between the door and its frame isn’t too big, as this could cause drafts. Finally make sure the handles are easy to use, not too stiff or too loose and check that any locks are functioning correctly. You should pay close attention to any wooden doors that lead outside; if they’re not properly fitted, they could be more susceptible to damp.
It’s important that you make sure all the windows in your new home have been fitted correctly, with no gaps between the window and the window frame that could lead to damp. If not, you will end up with drafts making your home cold, especially in the winter. If a window opens, you should also open and close it to test its hinges and check its lock. Also consider that if there are scratches on any of the glass, you can request this to be replaced. You’re buying a new home that is meant to be in perfect condition. If damage has occurred during the building process, it should be fixed.
Assuming your new home has a staircase, you’re going to be walking up and down it a lot, so you need to make sure it’s built correctly. Test out the stairs, make sure they feel even and that they’re strong enough to take your weight. If you hear any creaks as you walk up or down, you’ll want to make a note of it.
Some of the most common issues on snagging lists can be found in kitchens. You should be making sure all the fittings are installed correctly and the worktops have the correct finish. Check all the cupboards the way you would a door, opening and closing, checking the hinges and whether they fit nicely. It’s vital that you test out all the built-in appliances, like the oven, extractor fan, hobs, and sink to make sure they all work correctly.
Make sure that all the grouting is complete and that any tiles and skirting boards are fitted correctly. Remember that bathrooms can easily develop mould so you need to minimise spaces where it can grow. You should also test all the taps and shower to make sure they work, and that the temperature is suitable and adjustable.
Just like the exterior of your home, you should feel that the inside looks pleasing to you. Make sure that every wall and ceiling has been completely painted and has a smooth and even finish. Look out for any cracks in the wall or any areas where paint may have ended up somewhere it shouldn’t be. Check the carpets and floorboards are all laid properly and there are no gaps between the flooring and the wall (these look unsightly and can lead to damp). You should also have a keen eye on skirting boards, as these can sometimes be loose or poorly fitted.
Insulation and heating
Even if it’s summer when you inspect the property, you’ll need to test out the heating. Try out any radiators you find in the rooms to make sure they work and that they heat up to a satisfactory temperature. Check that the boiler is accessible, and easy to use. You should make sure you check the insulation of the house, especially in any loft spaces. Many new build homes have insufficient loft insulation when they’re first built so you’ll want to keep an eye out for that. While you’re there you can also check for gaps in the roof that may allow cold air in.
Making sure the plumbing is working is a priority. You don’t want to end up with blockages and smells ruining your experience in your new house. Make sure you run every tap in the house, including outside taps if you have them and see how well the water flows and drains. You should flush all the toilets to see how well they work. If water tanks are accessible, you can try inspecting them, though this will need a professional pair of eyes.
Make sure that you test all the plug sockets you can find in the building. Take something with you to plug in and see if it works. You should also make sure they’re all fitted correctly to the wall and are not damaged as this could be dangerous. It’s also worth noting how accessible they are. As well as plug sockets you should also be testing all the light switches. Many new builds will also have USB plug points, so make sure to check any your property may have.
What are the advantages of getting a snagging survey?
Although a snagging survey will typically cost anywhere between £200-£600, if the inspection does end up highlighting any serious issues it will be a more than worthwhile investment. Especially when you consider the value of your new home will be much higher. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that the actual price of your report will depend upon the size and value of the new build, so it’s worth shopping around to gather quotes and get the best deal for you.
What’s more, when you book a professional surveyor to conduct the inspection on your behalf, you increase the credibility of your claim. Although there are no definitive rules, we would recommend that you use a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) registered company that has specific expertise in new builds to complete the report.
Finally, the surveyor’s input will also help you to ensure that the home you’ve bought has been constructed to a decent standard, as well as offer their advice on the necessary repairs to be made. This includes an unusually high level of scrutiny into even the most minor of defects. This helps to guarantee that the home is completely free of any risks or imperfections.
Can housebuilders refuse to fix snags?
A common worry is that the homebuilders and developers will refuse to fix the snags that were found.
While they’re responsible for any faults in the house and for fixing them (according to their warranty and insurance), the sticking point can sometimes come with what is considered a fault. You may have included something on your list that the developers don’t agree is a fault with the house which they argue that they can’t be expected to fix it.
You may have to negotiate with them what faults you can live with and what faults you need them to fix. Remember that no house is perfect and falling out with your property developer may cause more problems than it’s worth.
If issues continue after completion, your NHBC Buildmark Cover may help with the cost of getting the builders back to fix it.
Updated September 2022 by Adam Rivers