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Recent annual housing supply figures revealed that over 200,000 new homes were constructed in the 2022/23 period. While this figure falls short of the government’s target of 300,000 new homes annually, it underscores a growing concern within the housing sector.

Despite the challenges in meeting the increasing demand for housing, it brings to light the potential issues that could arise with the rapid development of new homes. As more and more new builds come onto the market, making sure these homes meet the highest quality and safety standards is crucial. This is where snagging inspections become indispensable.

A snagging inspection, often called a snagging survey, is an important part of the home-buying process, ensuring that new builds are not just rushed to meet quantity targets but are constructed with the quality that homeowners and property investors deserve.

These inspections scrutinise every aspect of a new home, from the structural integrity to the finishing details, identifying any defects or imperfections that need to be rectified. The aim is to ensure that each new home is not only safe and secure, but also matches the quality standards outlined by the New Homes Quality Board’s New Homes Quality Code (NHQC).

Given the current pace of construction, the role of snagging inspections has never been more critical. They offer a structured, consistent approach to quality assurance, providing peace of mind to buyers and investors alike.

In this article, we’ll look at the importance of a snagging list and how it can be simplified with tools like Property Inspect. But first, let’s start with the basics.

What is a snagging list?

For homeowners, when they invest in a new build home, they’re not just buying a property – they’re purchasing a dream. But even in the best-planned developments popping up throughout the UK, minor issues and imperfections, otherwise known as snags, can crop up.

To manage this issue, a snagging inspection, resulting in a snagging list, serves as a thorough check to identify these issues in new build homes before someone moves in, ensuring that the new property meets not only the expectations of the buyer but the standards of both the developer and the New Homes Quality Board.

The main goal of a snagging inspection is to put together an extensive snagging list of defects or ‘snags’ found within a new property. These can be things like simple cosmetic blemishes (such as paint drips or uneven finishes) to more significant, structural concerns. Identifying these issues early means that there is time for the builder to address and correct them before they worsen or become costly to fix.

To that end, the timing of a snagging inspection is crucial. Ideally, it should take place after the construction is complete but before the final handover to the buyer. This window allows the inspector to access the property after all construction work is supposedly finished, ensuring the inspection is comprehensive and that there aren’t any issues with the financial and insurance aspects of buying a new home.

If this isn’t possible for some reason, a snagging inspection can still be valuable later down the line, as most builders provide a warranty that covers defects for at least this period. The only issue is, there’s more chance of a dispute the longer it is left.

Snagging inspection vs home inspection

Unlike home inspections, which are typically conducted on existing properties so surveyors can assess their condition and value, a snagging inspection is unique to new builds. They focus on quality and compliance within a set of agreed specifications, rather than wear and tear, historical (like asbestos) or maintenance issues common in older homes. Therefore a snagging inspection is proactive, aiming to catch issues before they become problems, rather than reactive, dealing with problems that may already exist.

Home inspections, otherwise known as home surveys, also play a significant role in the buying and selling of residential properties, serving as a marker of the condition of the property, such as a condition report, which can then be used to negotiate prices, among many other things.

What is a snagging list?

A snagging inspection results in a detailed snagging list, which is a detailed checklist highlighting things that need completing or fixing. It can sometimes be known as a punch list, snag list or deficiency list in the construction industry, and it encompasses any work that deviates from the original specifications, or things that need corrective action.

Items on a snag list are usually minor repairs or adjustments. More significant problems are usually identified and resolved during the process of development, but there have been several high profile cases where new homes fell way below safety standards.

After completion, the snag list is passed on to the home builder or developer, who is typically responsible for addressing these issues within a certain timeframe, ensuring the property meets the agreed standards and specifications.

What does a snagging inspection cover?

For homebuyers, securing a new build home comes with the expectation that the property will be in pristine condition. However, the reality of construction processes means there are often snags, ranging from minor cosmetic flaws to more severe structural defects.

This is why new build snagging inspections are crucial for upholding quality across all new builds. But what do snagging inspections typically cover?

A new build snagging inspection encompasses a broad range of checks, both cosmetic and structural. Cosmetic snags are surface-level imperfections that don’t necessarily affect the functionality or safety of the home, but still do not meet the expectation of buyers. As we’ve mentioned, these can be things like paint drips, scratches on surfaces, uneven tiling, or poorly fitted fixtures.

Structural snags on the other hand are more significant, directly affecting the structural integrity of the building. These issues are not always immediately visible, so they require a keen eye to spot. They can pose quite significant safety risks or need extensive repairs if not addressed quickly. Some examples of this are improper insulation, faults with the roofing, electrical and plumbing issues, problems with drainage and damp proofing, or, in some rare instances, a risk of subsidence.

Channels like Real Life Architecture have become more prominent in recent years owing to the high number of new builds

What’s in a snagging inspection?

New build snagging inspections encompass a range of considerations. Whether it’s exterior, such as the building’s façade, roofing, windows, or doors, or interior, including walls, ceilings, flooring, and internal fixtures, inspectors look for quality of finish, functional issues and structural defects.

Because the scope of a snagging inspection is extensive, it needs a keen eye for detail and an understanding of building standards and regulations. After all, it’s not just about identifying what is wrong, it’s about making sure that everything that was supposed to be right is as it should be.

New build snagging list

A thorough snagging checklist includes but is not limited to the following items:

  • Joinery and Carpentry: Assessing the state of the joinery and carpentry for quality.
  • Brickwork and Masonry: Assessing the integrity of the external and internal brickwork.
  • Fire Safety: Ensuring all fire safety measures comply with safety regulations.
  • Plaster and Paintwork: Evaluating finishes and identifying areas that need retouching.
  • Groundwork: Examining the groundwork for issues that could affect the foundation.
  • Radiators: Using thermal imaging to check for efficient heat distribution.
  • Plumbing: Checking installations to ensure they’re securely fitted and functional.
  • Roof and Guttering: Inspecting the roof, tiles, and guttering system for leaks.
  • Garage: Looking at the construction and finish of the garage.
  • Loft Inspection: Looking at insulation and ventilation, ensuring it’s up to standard.
  • Electrical: Testing sockets and wiring for safety and compliance.
  • Windows and Doors: Inspecting installation to ensure energy efficiency, etc.
  • Damage: Highlighting damage made during construction.
  • Levels of Floors and Ceilings: Measuring levels to ensure they meet standards
  • Tiling: Checking tiling in kitchens and bathrooms for alignment and quality.

How much does a snagging inspection cost?

Investing in a new build home is a significant financial commitment, so it’s important to ensure that this investment is protected. Because a snagging inspection is designed to identify and document any defects in a new property, it commands a fair price.

According to CompareMyMove, a snagging inspection can cost between £300 and £600. Of course, the total cost will depend on the size of the new build property.

Despite its cost, the value of a snagging inspection cannot be overstated as it ensures that a new build home is in perfect condition, safeguarding the homeowner’s investment and improving standards across the new home construction industry.

NHQC standards and the role they play in snagging inspections

In the realm of new build homes, ensuring quality is paramount. In the UK, one of the benchmarks for these standards comes from the New Homes Quality Board, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the quality of new homes and service provided by developers.

Traditionally, new build developers had to adhere to the Consumer Code for Homebuilders. However, after extensive consultation, NHQB’s New Homes Quality Code was introduced in December 2021.

This new code enhances the existing requirements placed on developers by adding further duties related to after-sales support and resolving disputes. It is designed so that the new code will be applicable to all developers. Starting from January 2022, all house-builders engaged in the construction and sale of new homes needed to register with the New Homes Quality Board (NHQB).

Specifically referring to snagging, the NHQC states: “It is widely acknowledged that new homes may have some finishing or other issues that need addressing after moving in…After completion, it is expected that developers will collaborate with their customers to identify and rectify any such snags. Developers are required to ensure that snags are included in the after-sales service and are addressed promptly.”

In addition to this, the code states that the developer must acknowledge any snags, issues, or problems promptly, saying: “In most cases, the developer should resolve any after-sales issue within 30 days unless there is a significant reason for delay.”

snagging list 10 NHQC guiding principles for new home builders in the UK
The 10 NHQC guiding principles for new home builders in the UK

NHQC guiding principles

NHQC follows a set of principles which play a foundational role in enhancing the quality of new build homes. Their significance lies in establishing a framework that guides developers and builders in delivering homes that not only meet but exceed homeowner expectations, as follows:

  1. Fairness: Treat customers fairly throughout the buying and after-sales process.
  2. Safety: Carry out and complete work in line with all regulations and requirements that apply to the new home, as set out by the Government, and have the necessary certificates from an appropriately approved body to show they have done this.
  3. Quality: Complete all work to a high standard in line with all building and other standards and regulations that apply, as well as to the specification for the new home, and make sure that completion does not take place until the new home is complete (see section 2 of this code).
  4. Service: Have in place systems, processes, and staff training to meet the customer service requirements of the code, and not use high-pressure selling techniques to influence a customer’s decision to buy a new home.
  5. Responsiveness: Have in place a reliable after-sales service and effective complaints procedure to make sure responses to customer queries are clear, thorough, and provided in good time.
  6. Transparency: Provide clear and accurate information about buying the new home, including tenure and any costs the customer may have to pay in the future, such as ground rents and service charges.
  7. Independence: Make sure that customers know they should appoint independent legal advisers when buying a new home and that they have the right to ask for an independent pre-completion inspection before completion takes place.
  8. Inclusivity: Take steps to identify and provide appropriate support to vulnerable customers and make sure the code is available to all customers, including in appropriate formats and languages.
  9. Security: Make sure there are reasonable financial arrangements in place, through insurance or otherwise, to meet all their obligations under the code, including repaying deposits when they are due and any financial awards made by the New Homes Ombudsman Service.
  10. Compliance: Meet the requirements of the code and the New Homes Ombudsman Service.

The critical role of snagging inspections

As we’ve explored throughout this blog, snagging inspections play a very important role in new build homes development. These detailed checklists and inspection frameworks ensure that every corner of a property, from the foundation to the finishing, meets the high standards expected of a brand new property.

Snagging inspections not only safeguard the quality and safety of a new build home, but also provide a clear pathway for improving the wider new homes construction industry.

Simplifying this process and enhancing the efficiency of snagging inspections can easily be achieve with the use of a snagging survey template, which comes preloaded in property inspection software like Property Inspect.

Digital tools are simplifying property processes across the industry, offering comprehensive and customisable checklists that ensure no detail is overlooked. Detailed documentation and clear communication can help in prioritising and efficiently managing repairs, ensuring customer satisfaction and maintaining standards in line with the demands required by New Homes Quality Code.

With features like photo uploads, detailed notes, and the ability to assign priority levels to different issues, Property Inspect gives new build inspectors a clear, detailed inspection and reporting process, significantly reducing the time between identifying snags and having them addressed, facilitating a smoother and faster move-in process.

The importance of conducting a thorough snagging inspection cannot be ignored. It’s an essential step in the home-buying process, which can be made all the more easier with property inspection software and snagging survey templates for a streamlined, transparent, and effective process.

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