If you are in the process of buying or have bought a new build property then this podcast is for you. In this week’s episode, we are talking about how to snag your house and perform your own snagging inspection.
Do you need a professional snagger?
Now that you’ve got the keys to your new home you will probably be asked by your builder for a snagging list. This is usually within the first 7 to 10 days that you will need it. The thought of having to snag your new home can be a little scary, especially if you don’t know what you are looking for.
You might also have thought of using the services of a professional snagger to do this for you. This will certainly make it a lot easier and give you peace of mind. But remember that there is a cost of using a professional snagger, which might put you off as you want to use whatever money you have left to buy new things for your new home.
When does the snagging process start?
The start of snagging process begins at the home demonstration. This is because this is the first opportunity you will have to visit and look at your brand-new home. You’ll be given an opportunity during your home demonstration to get a key handover to inspect your new property. My advice is to take your time and do this carefully at both the home demonstration and again at the key handover. That’s because there can be a time difference between when you have your home demonstration and when you get the keys to your new house, which means there could have been tradesmen in your home that could have created more snags.
Some builders will want to do the home demonstration and key handover on the same day. This is never a good idea and you will have enough to think about without having to go through a home demonstration with the site manager. During your home demonstration take your time and have a good look around. Don’t let the site manager rush you through it. This will be the first time you’ve seen your brand new house and you will be excited. But there is a lot to take in.
If you’re not sure of anything, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you missed or don’t understand what the site manager is telling you, ask them to go through it again. They won’t mind and should be happy to explain it to you once more.
What to look out for
There are a few things which you need to look at during your home demonstration and again at key handover. You need to pay particular attention to your windows for any scratched glass. When you look through your window, stand 1 metre away, don’t go right up to the glass, and try to have a background such as another building or a tree when you look through it. This will give a contrast and make any scratches stand out. Don’t look at the sky as this will make them difficult to see.
Also, check any mirrors and shower screens for scratches and damage, check your kitchen units and appliances, any floor coverings that have been included, wall and floor tiling, sanitary ware, and any other furniture fitted by the builder such as wardrobes. Check these for damage and make sure any issues you have seen are logged on the home demonstration form or key handover form.
On your completion day, your builder will ask you for a snagging list. This is within the first 7 to 10 days and they should explain to you that this is for the items I have just spoken about. If you don’t let them know in the first 7 to 10 days about scratches and chips, after this period they will most likely not rectify them as they could have been done by yourselves moving in.
Don’t let your site manager panic you into rushing into giving them a snagging list. It’s important to remember that during the first two years of your warranty agreement, your builder has a responsibility to put right any defects which you could not see at the time of moving in or those that develop later.
If you have not been told about your warranty agreement then I would ask the sales or site manager to explain it, as there are a number of warranties builders use. The three most popular ones are the NHBC, Premier Guarantee, and LABC or local authority building control. The NHBC are probably the best of a bad bunch. You need to know what your warranty covers, your rights, and how the warranty claims procedure works should you need to make a claim.
All new homeowners can identify snags. These are usually the more obvious ones such as minor decoration, imperfections, chips and dents. These are fine, but they are mostly minor defects and the more serious ones go unnoticed. This is the homeowner’s fault – most new build homeowners don’t know how their houses have been constructed and possibly don’t have a trade or industry background to know what to look for.
If you are lucky you might have a family member or friend who has some experience in the industry and knows what to look for. If you are unsure of what to look for, why don’t you check out our YouTube Channel? The videos on it will give you an idea of what to look for and where to look.
The snagging report
Presenting your site manager with an easy-to-follow snagging list will help them. If you can also include photographs and a location of where the snags are then this is even better. When you are going to do your snagging inspection it should be carried out in a methodical way which your site manager will appreciate.
The report should be easy to follow and it should also clearly describe what this snag is and where it is. Just saying that there is a dent in the living room wall won’t help the site manager, as there are four walls in a room!
Checking the external areas of your house
So when should you start to do your snagging list? I usually start with the external areas first. I would advise starting at the road or footpath because this gives you a good view of your front elevation. Check your drive and paths for any damage or loose pavings. If it has rained, check if these are holding water. Check the landscaping to see if it looks okay, has the turf been laid flat with no damage or footmarks? Check that there are no dead plants which need replacing.
If the garden areas are just soil, have they been rotovated and raked flat with no stones larger than 25mm left? There should also be no builders’ rubble or debris left on the ground. Check the fencing is ok, are the posts straight and are there any gaps underneath the fence which might need a gravel board fitting? Does the gate open and close properly and does both the latch and the bolt work correctly?
Now, look at the front of your house. Does the brickwork look clean with no staining? Are there any damaged bricks or render it’s been rendered? If you have artstone cills and heads are these clean with no damage or cracks? Check your windows and window sills for any scratches or damage. Are the windows sealed with no damaged or loose and untidy mastic?
Around the house, the soil or chipping should be 150 mm lower than the damp proof course. Sometimes the builder will fit a double DPC, but nowhere in the NHBC standards does it say that this means the ground level shouldn’t be 150 mm lower than the damp proof course. Are the air bricks blocked and is the ground sloping away from them? There should be a 75 mm gap below the airbrick to the ground level.
Check your fascia boards and soffit for any damage and make sure that they are clean. Check the roof tiles or slates for any damage or if they’re not lying flat going up the valleys. Are the ridge tiles securely fixed? You can check this from across the road at the front and the back of the garden area at the rear of the property. Follow the same method with all of your elevations front, left, right, and rear, whichever applies to your property.
Checking the Garage
Once you have completed the external areas of the house, if you have a garage then you can inspect it using the same method as when you inspected the external areas of your property. However, in the internal area of your garage, you will also need to check the brickwork. If it is a door garage shared with your neighbour there should be a fire stopping on top of the party wall. This will be insulation or other material.
If the garage is internal with a room above it, if you have a garage personnel door into the hallway or other room, this should be a fire door. The gaps around the door should not exceed 4 mm in size and head and 8-10 mm at the bottom. The door should have a door closer fitted and the casing should have a brush strip fitted to the door to close against.
You need to check if the electrics are working correctly. Is there a bulb fitted in the light? If detached, is the electric feed clipped against the brickwork? Are the electrical fittings such as the sockets and light switches fitted to a backboard to protect them from any water ingress if it is a single-skin garage?
You need to check the doors work properly, check for any damage or scratches and if they are sealed correctly. Are the walls and floors clean of any excess mortar droppings or staining? If there are internal brick or block pillars supporting the walls, do they project above the bottom of the roof truss? Check the roof timbers for damage. Does the diagonal or any other bracing butt up to the brickwork?
Are the wall plate straps screwed to the brickwork? Also, check the felt for any damage. If it is an internal building, check the ceiling line around the garage and around any pipes or wire penetrations. There should be no gaps to allow a fire to spread to the upper floors. These are normally filled with intumescent mastic or fire collar if the penetration is more than 50mm.
Checking the internal areas of your house
Once you have completed the external elevations of your house you can now move on to the inside. Start at your front door and work inwards to the hall and each room that radiates from it. Try to do your inspection in a clockwise or anticlockwise manner. This will help your site manager.
Start by checking the front door and frame for any damage or scratches. Does it open and close properly? Don’t forget the letterbox! Check the walls for damage or poor plastering such as plasterboard joints. Check the floor slab for any damage. If it’s cracked, are the cracks excessive? These might need filling. If you have had any floor coverings fitted check these for any marks or any damage.
Check the internal doors close and latch without rattling on the keeper. Is there any visible damage to the door or handle? Check the paintwork including all woodwork, walls and ceiling for damage or poor quality. Also, check the windows. Do they open correctly or are they or the glass scratched or damaged?
Remember to have a background when looking for scratches. This contrast will highlight them. Check your kitchen units and worktops for scratches and damage. Do the doors and drawers’ soft-close mechanisms work properly? Do the door edges and bottoms line up? Check that your appliances work and are secured in place. You will be surprised by the number of appliances we see that aren’t.
Check any wall and floor tilings for damage or excess lipping. Are the kitchen lights and sockets working and do the switches on the grid switch operate the appliances that are marked on them (such as the dishwasher, extractor hood, and fridge)? Check that your patio or bi-fold doors open and closed correctly and are not damaged and check the glass again to see if it’s not scratched.
Now you’ve completed the downstairs, follow this method for the stairs, landing, and bedrooms. Don’t forget to do all bathrooms as well (including en-suites). Remember to do it methodically – make it so your builder will be able to follow your list.
Checking the roof space
Once you have finished your snagging list for the external and internal areas of your house, the last place you need to check is your roof space. You may need a pair of steps or a small ladder for this and a torch. Please don’t miss this area as we often find some serious issues in the roof space.
Start by looking at your installation. Is it flat and level, without any gaps? Is the felt intact and not damaged? Are the bathroom and ensuite extractor fan ducts connected to the outside by a tile vent or by a solid duct into the external walls? They should also be insulated and have no restrictions on airflow. If they are connected to the tile vent with tape to seal it, they also need to be mechanically fixed with the jubilee clip. Otherwise, it should be solid ducting – this is a building regulation.
Check any roof vents and that the belt around them is not cut out too big. Check any blockwork is filled and tied up to the side of the felt on your planks. If it is a party wall between you and your neighbour, there should be fire stopping on top of the block work and also between the felt and the tiles. If you have a spandrel panel then there should also be fire stopping underneath it. If you have any mechanical ventilation system installed there should also be a walkway to it for you to maintain it.
Sending off your snagging report
Once you have finished your snagging list, you can give it to your builder. Always send this list by email to the customer care department. If you are going to give any snags to your site manager, ask customer care to log them on file. That way you’ll have an audit trail should you ever need to go to resolution with your warranty provider.
Whilst this list is not exhaustive, it is a good guide for you and should help you to identify snags for your builder. However, my advice would always be to use a third-party professional to snag your new build home. They will always identify more defects and produce a professional snagging report for you to give to your builder.
Listen to Let’s Get Snagging Episode Five: or find our other podcast episodes.
Check out some of the snags we have found on our YouTube channel.
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