What is a Snagging Survey?

New build homes are a great option for many people, whether a first time buyer or a growing family. However, there are a few common problems many new build buyers aren’t prepared for. NHBC warranties do not cover workmanship and quality finishes which is why many people decide to invest in a ‘snagging survey’, to make sure you are happy with the craftsmanship of the property before you complete. Here is our guide to snagging reports and some of these issues that arise when buying a new build property.

What Is A Snagging Survey?

A snagging survey is a survey designed to identify problems with new build homes. These problems may be small and cosmetic or structural and dangerous. A snagging survey involves a visual survey to assess the quality of workmanship against specified standards. A good inspector will check all aspects of the property that are visible, both inside and out, including the garden, driveway and garage if relevant.
A snagging survey might identify:

  • Any issues in the property that fall short of the warranty standards.
  • Any breaches of building regulations or any other statutory technical guidance.
  • Works which are still outstanding.
  • Poor quality paintwork.
  • Bad plastering
  • Dangerous fixtures and fittings.
  • Badly fitted skirting boards.
  • Unsatisfactory brickwork.
  • Unstable guttering.
  • Inadequate worktop finishes.
  • Cracks in walls.
  • Breaches of building regulations or any other statutory technical guidance.
  • Where traditional custom and practice within the industry have not been met.
  • A report might offer guidance as to any outstanding issues requiring remedial works.

When Should I Get A Snagging Survey?

To be most effective, snagging surveys should be conducted after the building work has been completed but before you legally complete on the property. However, you may find that some developers won’t allow a survey to be carried out before this point. If this happens, you MUST book a surveyor to assess the property as soon as you move in. This way, you can act on any of the defects identified immediately by the survey with the developer.
The period during which the builder is liable to make any contractual warranty repairs is two years. This means if you have the inspection completed within this time frame, you will be able to appeal any inadequate work.

Can I Carry Out A Snagging Survey Myself?

If you have specialist knowledge, doing your own snagging survey could help you save money. If not, you can create a snagging list yourself but you are unlikely to spot the details a professional snagging inspector will. If you are not an expert it can be a very confusing process but if you do decide to go it alone, do some research online and compile a comprehensive checklist of things to look out for.
There is a specific way in which to note all defects. This includes noting what the defect is, it’s precise location by room and position. You also need to know what is needed to be done to rectify it. This will help make it clearer and easier for particular tradespeople. Also, it is helpful if you can list the trades people required and always number each defect for easy future reference.

Things to consider if you decide to assess your own home:

  • Do not survey your home with any member of the developer’s staff.
  • When checking a room stand in the middle
  • Minor defects might be made to look worse if rectifications are attempted.
  • Do not add anything to your list after you have completed your assessment. If you did not notice it the first time round it is probably not worth noting now.
  • You could go on ‘snagging’ your new home forever.
  • Send your completed list to the site manager or sales advisor.
  • Request that the site manager personally checks that all the items have been attended to and confirms this in writing.

Ask for confirmation that all the building work is finished before you do the survey. Take your time and err on the side of caution. If something looks like it might be a snag or problem, include it on your list, even if you aren’t 100% sure. Issues can be reported at a later date, but it’s best to be as thorough as possible from the start.

What Are The Benefits Of A Professional Snagging Report?

An independent snagging survey will also add weight to your complaints if you have found your developer to be unresponsive to your calls for action. Whilst it will typically cost anywhere between £200-£600, it will be a more than worthwhile investment should any faults be found. Remember though, the actual price of your report will depend upon the size and value of the new build, soshop around to gather quotes to get the best deal.

Although there are no definitive rules, it would be a good idea to use a RICS registered company with specific experience of new builds to complete the report.

Also, the surveyor’s report might confirm that the home you have bought has been constructed to a decent standard, not just advise on the necessary repairs to be made. Professional reports include an unusually high level of scrutiny into even the smallest defects.

Do I Organise My Own Snagging Survey?

Yes, it is your responsibility to organise all your own property surveys. Your conveyancing solicitor will be happy to advise which ones to carry out and even recommend a trusted surveyor but the responsibility to organise a surveyor is yours.

New Build Properties And Conveyancing Solicitors

The legal side of buying a new build home is more complicated than other types of property since the potential for something to go wrong is much higher. For example, you might experience issues with non compliance to planning regulations, failure to carry out NHBC inspections, failure to account for the future maintenance of common parts etc, can end up costing a fortune if not done properly.

This means that instructing a reputable conveyancing solicitor, even a solicitor who specialises in new build homes, is a good idea.

Sometimes, the developers’ conveyancing solicitor (and sales team) will try and put you under a lot of pressure to complete within a certain time frame, especially when it is almost their end of year to exchange on purchases. This is why we recommend that you get several conveyancing quotes and assess which conveyancing solicitors will be the most likely to deal with these problems effectively. If you have a good, independent conveyancing solicitor, they are less likely to bend under pressure from the developer and act in your interests.

What Should My Conveyancing Solicitor Look Out For?

Searches specific to new build homes must be undertaken by conveyancing solicitors before exchange and completion occurs. Your conveyancing solicitor must:

  • Check that appropriate planning permission was obtained.
  • That the property has been constructed in full accordance with it.
  • Roads are properly adopted.
  • Drains and utilities are properly established.
  • Highlight any restrictive covenants that have been written into the lease or registered against the freehold which could prohibit any alterations to the property in the future.
  • Explain whether the property is leasehold or freehold, and set out details of the lease.
  • Explain how any common areas are being managed and any likely management fees etc.
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