In this podcast episode, we take a look at the most common snags that we find during our inspections and I share some of the worst snags I have seen whilst working in the industry.
The issues with the house-building industry
I am going to start this podcast with a thought for you: all house-building developers can put professional snaggers out of business. Just think about it.
I know that’s a big statement to make and one which in all probability will never happen. However, if all developers built their houses correctly and to a good standard then why would new build home buyers need to use the services of a professional snagger?
However, developers are not going to achieve the quality of new build homes they should be handing over to customers, so it is safe to say this is never going to happen unless we see a dramatic change in the house-building industry’s attitude and culture.
I have conversations daily with some of our customers who are having difficulties with their developers. Whether it is pre-completion or post-completion, customers are being treated disgracefully by some developers.
Forget the five-star status they all proudly show off. This is purely industry-led and is the house-building industry patting itself on the back. So, let’s have a look at what a so-called ‘five-star house’ looks like when we do our inspections…
10 of the most common snags we see
1. Damaged artstone windowsills and heads – this is a very common snag and one which we should not see.
2. Damaged brickwork – how many times do we see damaged bricks, and why has the site manager not had them replaced?
3. Missing cavity trays – I have this argument daily. Any penetration through a cavity should have a tray installed. This is a building regulation, not my rules, but extractor and boiler flue ducts very rarely have them fitted. There are a few developers that fit them but not all do.
4. Lead flashings not sealed correctly or patinated – the number of times we see lead flashing not fully sealed or pointed with mortar which is only going to crack and fall out when the lead expands and contracts. Lead should also be patinated to prevent it from leaching that is when you see grey staining below it on the tiles or slates.
5. Dry verges not mechanically fixed – this is covered by British standard 5534 / 8612. Roofers know they should be mechanically fixed using proprietary fixings and not as we sometimes see screwed to the end of the guttering.
6. Guttering holding water having incorrect falls – you would be surprised at the number of times we see this.
7. Scratched glass – this is something you need to check during your demonstration and handover meetings, make sure you have a good look for scratched glass and make sure it is documented on the developers’ forms.
8. Poor plasterwork – the number of board joints and poor plastering we see is getting worse, no one checks behind sinks and toilets. Site managers get on your hands and knees and have a look!
9. Poor decoration – this nearly always comes down to poor preparation and poor plastering, you sometimes have to feel sorry for the decorator who has to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear when he is handed a poor house to decorate.
10. Missing insulation – we see this a lot, especially when using a thermal camera during the colder months. This can be a simple fix or one which needs a lot of work. Why doesn’t the site manager look at the roof area before handing the house over?
These are just a fraction of what we highlight in our reports, and we haven’t started to dig deeper.
10 of the worst snags we see
1. Blocked drainage – this is not common, but we do snag houses where the drainage is blocked, so how has it passed a drain test during the final inspection?
2. Brickwork not plumb level and out of tolerance – this issue can be a nightmare to get the developer to rectify and will sometimes need the warranty provider’s input to get the developer to take it down and rebuild. Although warranty providers can also be very difficult when trying to sort brickwork out.
3. Fire doors not complying with Building Regulations – this is far too common a snag, we see this on most developments and especially on apartment doors, there is no excuse for this.
4. Creaking floorboards or micro-cracking – creaking floors can be a nightmare to fix because sometimes the cause is not apparent and needs investigating. There are several things which can cause this and it can just be a matter of elimination.
5. Creaking stairs – especially on the kite winders. This is nearly always down to the joiner not constructing the stairs properly.
6. Ceiling lines out of tolerance – this is normally caused because the blockwork underneath the joists and wall plate are not straight or level.
7. Walls out of plumb – this can be because the plasterer has not plumbed his boards when dabbing the walls or the joiner not constructing his stud work plumb.
8. Cold air ingress and cold bridging – we see this a lot when we use a thermal camera, windows and doors can be adjusted, however, cold bridging can be a little more difficult to fix. If more attention to detail was observed during the construction phase these issues could be eliminated.
9. Bathroom and en-suite extractor ducts not connected in the roof – how many times do we see this, no one checks to make sure they are connected and connected correctly to a tile vent or wall vent with a jubilee clip and not just tape.
10. Damaged roof trusses – these can be a nightmare for new build homebuyers who don’t use a professional snagger to identify them. They can cost a lot of money to repair as they need repairing to the manufacturer’s instructions because they are a structural part of the building.
The list goes on…
The list goes on, but the real question for me is why these houses are being signed off by developers and warranty providers. Surely they see these issues and can do something about them. Even when some of these snags don’t comply with their standards, they are still happy to sign them off and issue a final certificate. This is ridiculous and does not help improve the quality and standards of newly built homes.
Another question is, what are the site managers doing walking past these issues daily and doing nothing about them? You must ask yourself do they ever leave the office to check the build quality, or if do they not know what the build quality should be. If that is the case, then that’s a training issue for the developer.
The whole situation is disgraceful, new build homebuyers should not be left having to deal with getting their snags rectified, sometimes taking weeks or months for the developer to fix them.
I know it is easy to pass judgement and I have been in that position putting pressure on site managers to deliver numbers. It is not a nice position to be in, but that is no excuse for poor quality and handing houses over that are not ready.
The situation has to change
Unfortunately, we live in a greedy world, and developers are only interested in numbers. If they build 400 new homes this year then next year the number will be 450 new homes. One of the reasons for this is the government needs developers to build more homes, and shareholders demand more return on their investment.
However, the government needs to be making sure that developers are building quality homes, not homes that are poorly built and to a poor standard, as this is not fair on new build homebuyers.
My feeling is that this trend is unsustainable given the shortages in available labour and materials. You only have to look at how many times handover dates get pushed back. Our appointment dates are constantly having to be moved which leaves new homebuyers in a right predicament having to rearrange removals and any other things they have organised for their new home, sometimes even having to extend or re-apply for their mortgage if the offer runs out.
Most developers should now be signed up to the New Homes Quality Board. This came into effect on the 4th of September 2022. The NHQB are promising an improvement in how new build homebuyers are treated and the quality of new homes that are being handed to customers.
Time will tell if the new homes quality board are really going to make a difference.
For now, it’s business as usual.
Check out some of the snags we have found on our YouTube channel.