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  1. Blog
  2. Snagging survey: Everything you need to know
Conveyancing help and guides
18 June 2021

Snagging survey: Everything you need to know

Rosie Hamilton
Writer & Researcher
Man and woman in turquoise room pack moving boxes

Table of contents

  1. 1. What is a snag?
  2. 2. What are snagging surveys?
  3. 3. What does a snagging inspection cover?
  4. 4. When should I get a snagging survey done?
  5. 5. Can I make my own snagging list?
  6. 6. What to do once you've had the snagging survey done?

One of the reasons new build homes are so popular is because they've never been used.

Not only are new homes likely to be more energy efficient and modern than other existing properties, they require much less maintenance work in the first few years of living there. No surprise broken boilers, no leaky roofs, no need to repaint - it's all been sorted for you.

Unfortunately, the reality is not so plain sailing. According to the New Homes Review, around 91% of new home buyers experienced 'snags' or defects with their new build home. These ranged from very small things like sticky doors, to much larger issues.

Because of this, many home buyers decide to get a snagging survey. But what actually is a 'snagging survey', and should you get one done?

What is a snag?

Colloquially a 'snag' means something along the lines of a 'hitch': an unexpected problem or hold up.

When it comes to property, the technical term 'snag' means something quite similar. It's used to describe a defect or problem with a newly built property.

New build snags fall into one of two main categories:

  • Functional

Snags that fall into the 'functional' category include everything that isn't working as it should. This could be something small, like a door not shutting properly, to larger issues like a faulty heating system.

  • Cosmetic

Cosmetic snags are any bits of the new build that haven't been finished correctly - from uneven plastering, to missing fixtures.

These could be accidental mistakes, or can be the result of poor quality work by the developers. Either way, most new builds come with a warranty (usually from NHBC) that obliges the house builder to resolve any snagging issues caused as a result of their work, if they are reported within a set timeframe.

What are snagging surveys?

Snagging surveys are inspections of new build properties carried out by professional snagging inspectors or surveyors.

They are designed to check the quality of a builder's work, and see if there are any faults - large or small - that need to be rectified.

Snagging surveys generally cost between £300 - £600, depending on the size of your property. It'll usually only take an hour or two to complete the survey, but surveyors will need longer to look round larger than average properties.

For more information on the different types of house survey available - head here.

What does a snagging inspection cover?

During a professional snagging survey, an inspector will take a look at both the interior and the exterior of the property for defects. If you're buying a new build flat, they'll also take a look at any communal areas, such as the stairways, entrances, and any shared facilities.

Unlike a Homebuyer survey, snagging surveys are specifically designed for new build homes. This means that rather than looking for signs of long term issues like subsidence or damp, a surveyor will be looking at the quality of the building work, ensuring that the developer has followed the latest regulations, and completed the property to the contractually agreed standard.

There's no standard template provided by either the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), or the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA), defining what a professional snagging survey should cover, so each surveying company offers slightly different services. While some surveyors will do a quick search focusing on cosmetic snags, others offer a more comprehensive service, including thermographic or borescope inspections. We'd recommend getting quotes from a few companies, and asking for a full breakdown of what their snagging report will include, before you decide who to work with.

When should I get a snagging survey done?

The best time to get a snagging survey done is once the building work has finished but before your official completion date. This will allow the builders time to carry out any repairs before you move in.

However, this isn't always possible. Sometimes developers will refuse to allow a surveyor onsite before the completion date, or there isn't enough time between building work finishing, and your move in date to arrange a snagging survey.

If this is the case, you should organise the snagging survey for as soon as possible after you move in - and before your warranty period expires (usually two years).

If however, you notice any 'snags' after you've moved in, but before your independent surveyor is able to visit, make sure to take a photo (preferably with a time stamp) and make a note of the issue. You may need to send this evidence to the house builder.

The longer you live in the property, the harder it is to prove whether a snag is genuinely the fault of the house builders, or just part of the wear and tear of living in a property. So while you will be able to get a house builder to fix something like scratches in paintwork if it appears on a survey before you move in, once you've lived there, it's likely that responsibility for some of the cosmetic issues will be disputed.

That said, some snagging companies recommend that you continue to look for snags throughout the first year that you live in your new build home. This is because it takes a bit of time for a property 'settle' on it's foundations. This process of 'settling' can cause

Can I make my own snagging list?

Yes, technically can do your own snagging list. However, if you don't have any building or surveying experience it's highly recommended that you hire an independent inspector.

An independent snagging report will give you more leverage when asking your house builder to fix defects, and will ensure that you get a really thorough overview of what problems your new house has. An experienced surveyor will be also be able to identify faults you may not notice.

However, if you do decide to go it alone, make sure to check:

  • Blemishes - is all the paintwork, plastering, and grout even and neat? Has everything been finished to a proper standard?
  • Windows - are they neatly sealed? Do they open and shut easily?
  • Keys - have you been provided with the keys for every door and window that locks? Do all the locks work?
  • Operating instructions & guarantees - you should be given the instruction manuals, and installation guarantees for all the fixture, fittings, and appliances that require them. This includes your windows, the boiler, and any white goods.
  • Plumbing - make sure all the taps in the property turn on easily, and that the water pressure is of the expected level. You should also check that you've been provided with all the sink and bath plugs you expect. Fill up any bathtubs and sinks and watch to make sure that no water leaks, or drains out when the plug is fitted.
  • Sockets - check all the plug sockets in your new house by plugging in a charger or lamp into each one.
  • Creaks - When you're walking around, listen out to the sounds the house makes. Does the floor creak? Are the hinges on cupboards and windows silent? If there's a lot of noise, this could be a sign something hasn't been fitted quite right.

For a comprehensive snagging inspection list, we'd recommend checking out the National House Building Council (NHBC) or Local Authority Building Control (LABC) websites, as well as comparing your new home to the particulars agreed in your sales contract.

What to do once you've had the snagging survey done?

Once the snagging survey is complete, the surveyor should send both you, and the house builder responsible for your new build, the snagging report.

This report will give an overview of the condition of the property, and contain the details of any defects that need fixing.

If you've had the snagging survey done within the first two years of moving into your new build home, the developer or house builder will be obliged under the NHBC warranty to fix these defects within 8 weeks of being informed of them.

If the developer disputes the defects - for example claiming that they were caused after you moved in, rather than during the building process - you can ask the NHBC to mediate the disagreement, and to help you find a resolution.

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