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Buying a new home? Welcome to the wonderful world of snagging (it could save you a fortune)

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Mar 2, 2017

If you’re buying a new build home, it’s probably going to be the biggest investment you’ve ever made.

No reason, then, to hold back from making sure everything is up to standard and as it was agreed.

Make sure you check that it is before finalising payment.

This is snagging – checking over the property for snags; anything, basically, that’s not right.

How can making yourself a pain in the backside to the builders like this save you money?

Well, that’s easy. Getting stuff fixed before you realise it’s a problem when you’re living in the house is always going to save you money, and give you fewer headaches.

Plus, a builder has a much greater incentive to fix things before he’s been paid in full than afterwards.

Some studies have shown that the average new build, even ones signed off by the NHBC (the National House Building Council) still have over 100 faults, so it’s worth taking snagging seriously.

The main areas to look out for, experts will tell you, relate to joinery, painting and plumbing.

The key is to be thorough and methodical about spotting snags.

Here’s our checklist of how to go about it.


Don’t go alone

Take someone with you, even if you believe you know what you’re looking for.

A novice can often ask very searching questions along the lines of ‘what does that wire dangling there do then?’

Better still, take an experienced tradesperson with you who you trust. Obviously, you’ll have to pay for their time and expertise.

You might even consider hiring a professional snagging company or a chartered surveyor. Yes, it’ll cost, but a few hundred pounds now, but to protect an investment of many tens of thousands it could be a wise move.


Get a comprehensive snagging list

If you decide to go down the DIY route, then make use of a bit of research to get comprehensive snagging lists as there are plenty out there for free.

Try here, for example for both internal and external checklists.


Don’t be fooled by cosmetic appearances

Fresh paint can hide a lot of faults. An overall effect can be very deceptive.

If a property smells of new decorations and fresh paint, it takes real focus to see beyond this and look for important shortcomings.


Don’t be fooled by the developer either!

Once the developer knows what you’re up to, they’ll almost certainly want to traipse around the property with you.

If something is wrong, however small, don’t be brushed off by reassurances that it will be fixed later.

Mark it down, whatever you’re told. Do not be put off through simple embarrassment. 


Make a detailed list

Do this even if you’re told that a certain thing will be sorted out later.

Don’t assume that this is correct.

List it, photograph it if possible and make sure you itemise as much detail as possible not only to identify the problem, but also its location.


Present professionally

Once you have your detailed list, make sure you type it up and make it look professional: proper terminology, attached photos and details of faults and locations.

Make at least three copies: one for you, one for your conveyancer and one for the developer.



While listing all faults, even minor ones are important, it’s also a good idea to conclude your report with a summary, especially if there are some general faults that apply throughout, such as windows incorrectly fitted, locks unfinished and so on.

This way you can cut down on details when you produce a final copy and save yourself repeating problems. 


Storage materials

Include such things as materials that will be used on your property that are badly stored and may later be weather-damaged.

This is something you should not only raise with the developer but go back later and check on. This kind of thing is a bad sign and should encourage you to snag even more carefully.


Check with the neighbours

Speak to other owners if they are already in similar completed homes.

Ask them what problems they have encountered, if any.

If there aren’t any, great – but don’t let down your guard. Yours might be the first property in a development that turns into a nightmare because of all its faults.


Get a retention

Speak to your solicitor or conveyancer about holding back a ‘retention’ – a proportionate sum of money – to ensure any faults get fixed.

Get this written into your contract if possible.

And that's it, happy hunting!

If you do take the plunge, make sure you compare house insurance deals to find the best cover for your new home. 


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