UK Nationwide Professional Snagging Inspections | Getting the Quality You Deserve

Snagging FAQs

Welcome to our comprehensive FAQ page, designed to assist you in the often complex world of new build properties. Whether you’re a first-time buyer, a seasoned investor, or somewhere in between, understanding the intricacies of buying and owning a new build home can be daunting. Our goal is to provide you with clear, concise answers to some of the most common questions we encounter in our day-to-day operations as experts in the field.

From the specifics of snagging lists to the legalities of dealing with builders and developers, we cover a wide range of topics. This resource is crafted to empower you with the knowledge and confidence needed to make informed decisions throughout your home buying journey. Whether you’re curious about the construction process, contractual details, or how to best protect your interests in a new build purchase, you’ll find valuable insights and guidance here.

Let’s dive into your questions and demystify the world of new build properties.


What is snagging?

One frequently asked question is: what exactly does ‘snagging’ mean?

In the construction sectors of the UK and Ireland, ‘snagging’ is a colloquial term referring to the process of finding and resolving defects. While its origins are in construction, the term is increasingly being adopted in other fields, such as software development, gaining broader recognition beyond the building industry. This rise in popularity is partly attributed to the growing trend of purchasing new build properties off-plan, which familiarises buyers with the snagging process. Furthermore, the term has gained media attention due to the frequent disputes it triggers between purchasers of new homes and the developers, highlighting its significance.

New Build Inspections offers expert snagging inspections across the UK, ensuring high standards in new property developments.

What is Snagging?

What is a snagging list?

A snagging list, often referred to as a snag list, is an inventory of defects in a newly constructed property. This list is compiled following a thorough visual examination by either a qualified professional or the new homeowner. Professionals suited for conducting snagging inspections include chartered surveyors and individuals with extensive experience in the construction industry, commonly known in the field as ‘snaggers’.

Opting for a professional to prepare your snagging list is highly recommended. Professionals typically identify a wider range of defects compared to an untrained eye. Importantly, homebuilders are not legally required to disclose known defects to buyers, underscoring the principle of ‘buyer beware.’ Thus, a professional inspection can be crucial in ensuring the quality and safety of your new home.”

What is a Snagging Checklist?

What are the most common snagging defects?

In new build properties, we frequently encounter the following top ten snagging issues:

  1. Plasterwork requiring patching and redecoration.
  2. Incomplete grouting in ceramic and bathroom tiling.
  3. Skirting boards and architraves that need caulking.
  4. External brickwork lacking weep vents and requiring an acid wash.
  5. Inadequately pointed block work.
  6. Loft insulation that is either incomplete or improperly installed.
  7. Extractor fans incorrectly venting into roof or ceiling voids.
  8. Uninsulated pipes in roof void areas.
  9. Broken roof tiles.
  10. Glazing that is defective or scratched.

These defects are critical to identify and rectify to ensure the longevity and safety of new build properties.”

When is the best time for a snagging inspection?

The timing for a snagging inspection largely depends on whether you are purchasing the property off-plan or not.

For those not buying off-plan, i.e., the property is already completed, it is advisable to schedule the inspection before exchanging contracts. Doing so allows the inclusion of specific clauses in your contract addressing snagging issues. These clauses might permit withholding a portion of the payment or delaying the completion until all necessary remedial work is satisfactorily carried out.

In contrast, for off-plan purchases, where contracts are often exchanged before the construction is complete or even started, the best time for a snagging inspection is when the builder issues the notice to complete. This typically occurs about two weeks before the legal completion date (when you move in). Such timing gives the builder a reasonable window to rectify any defects identified during the inspection.

It’s important to remember that you can arrange for the inspection at any point within the first two years of your warranty period. You also have the flexibility to submit a snagging list at any time during these two years.

Can the developer deny you access to the property?

Legally, the property remains the developer’s possession until completion is finalised. In some instances, they might attempt to restrict access to our snagging inspector. However, as a prospective buyer, you have a vested legal interest in the property. Consequently, if the developer is uncooperative, your solicitor can facilitate access.

In recent years, denying access has become less of a problem. Most developers are accustomed to working with snagging inspectors, and the Home Builders Federation (HBF) has adopted a voluntary ‘Customer Service Code of Conduct.’ This code includes a provision (Clause 15) stating that home builders should collaborate with qualified professional advisors appointed by the customer, especially in resolving disputes. This commitment further supports your right to conduct a thorough snagging inspection.

Do your inspectors conduct structural surveys?

While our snagging inspectors do not perform full structural surveys, they are adept at identifying defects that may necessitate further investigation. During their inspections, if they spot issues that raise concerns about the structure, they will highlight these for additional scrutiny.

It’s worth noting that such findings can sometimes lead to a delay in the property’s completion as these matters require more in-depth investigation. In such instances, it is crucial to involve your legal representative. This is because failing to complete the purchase after the notice has been issued can be seen as a breach of contract. Without a valid reason, backed by the findings of the inspection, the developer might seek damages. Therefore, legal guidance is essential in navigating these situations.

Who is the best home builder?

We encounter this question frequently, and the truth is, there is no definitive answer. The quality of home construction varies significantly, often depending on the specific site rather than the builder as a whole. The key factors contributing to this variation include the site manager’s skill and attention to detail.

Large builders, in particular, face challenges in consistently delivering homes that meet high standards. In our experience, homes constructed by larger companies tend to have more defects. These issues often stem from ineffective site management, a lack of skilled tradespeople, and the use of diverse teams comprising various subcontractors and contractors. Therefore, the ‘best builder’ can be subjective and heavily influenced by the management and workforce of individual construction sites.

What is liquidated damages?

The housebuilders will usually include a clause in the contract specifying the amount of damages that can be claimed in the event of legal completion being delayed. It is usually in the order of £50 per day.

The term is applicable to all legal contracts where damages are specified in the contract.

What is a stock home?

A stock home refers to a new build property that is fully completed and ready for occupancy. Typically, these are homes that were not pre-sold off-plan, or where the initial sale did not materialise. Often, these units are considered less desirable within a development, presenting an opportunity for buyers. Due to their status, potential buyers are usually in a strong position to negotiate significant discounts and incentives.

What should I do if the builder changes the design?

If you find that the builder has altered the design or specification of your property, it’s possible they have breached the Property Misdescription Act. In such cases, you should contact Trading Standards, as they are the authority responsible for enforcement under this act. Additionally, you may pursue a civil claim for misrepresentation, with guidance from your solicitor.

Builders often include substitution clauses in contracts, allowing them to modify specifications. This is generally considered reasonable, especially when certain products are unavailable due to legitimate reasons. However, these changes should be like-for-like substitutions.

It’s important to note that if the contract allows for non-like-for-like substitutions, it might violate the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (UTCCRs). According to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), the UTCCRs protect consumers against unfair terms in standard contracts with traders. They state that a term is likely unfair if it significantly imbalances the contract to the consumer’s detriment. Only a court can ultimately determine a term’s fairness.

For example, the OFT once took action against Barratt Homes, leading to the removal of clause 3.2 from their standard contract. This clause had previously allowed the supplier broad discretion to change what was provided to the consumer for vaguely defined reasons such as ‘expediency, necessity, or as the Company sees fit.’

Should I use the solicitor recommended by the developer?

It’s generally recommended to exercise caution in this regard. While a solicitor is professionally obligated to act in your best interests, conflicts of interest can arise, especially when the solicitor has ongoing business relationships with the developer. These relationships might influence the solicitor’s objectivity, as they often earn more from referrals by the builder than from the fees you pay.

If the developer offers free conveyancing as an incentive, it might be prudent to request a cash equivalent instead. This allows you the freedom to choose an independent solicitor who is wholly dedicated to representing your interests without potential conflicts. Remember, the legal advice you receive during property transactions is crucial, and ensuring your solicitor’s independence is key to protecting your investment.

Can I seek compensation from a developer for completion delays?

The possibility of claiming compensation for delays depends on whether the builder has issued a notice to complete. If such notice has been served, you are entitled to claim liquidated damages as stipulated in your contract. Typically, these damages amount to around £50 per day. However, it’s important to note that builders often issue this notice only when they are confident of avoiding any penalties. This usually means serving notice mere weeks before the property’s completion.

In cases where no notice to complete has been served, claiming compensation becomes challenging. Despite sales staff potentially giving you an early, and often unrealistic, move-in date to finalise the sale, this does not legally entitle you to compensation for delays. The discrepancy between projected and actual completion dates can indeed cause inconvenience and additional expenses. To minimise this risk, consider purchasing a stock home or opting for a part-exchange scheme, if available.