Buying a new build home is exciting, but it’s important to be sure of what you’re getting before you commit to a sale. Nobody wants to move into their dream house just to discover endless problems with the building down the line. This is why it’s so important to thoroughly inspect the property before completion, giving you the opportunity to identify issues while there’s still time to fix them.
While it’s possible to do a DIY house survey, it’s easy to miss things or for developers to mislead you if you don’t know what you’re looking for. On the other hand, a structural warranty surveyor will have the experienced eye and equipment needed to analyse every aspect properly on your behalf.
Once the keys have been handed over and the home is officially yours, it can be difficult to get the seller or builder to take responsibility for fixing defects without this type of new build insurance. Here we run through the ways that new build surveys can help you, including a snag list template.
A ‘snag’ is a slang term for a construction defect, with ‘snagging’ commonly used to refer to the process of identifying and correcting these defects. Snags tend to be the result of substandard workmanship and materials. They can be purely cosmetic, such as cracked tiles or messy paint, or more serious functional issues like faulty fittings – from windows and doors to wiring and plumbing.
The idea of a ‘snag list’ or ‘snagging list’ is to compile an inventory of existing or potential problems with a property at the time of the inspection. You can then present this information to the seller or builder, with the caveat that you cannot finalise the sale until they remedy all the issues on the list.
Of course, all new build homes undergo official checks for planning permissions before construction begins and building regulation compliance before receiving a certificate of completion. However, this doesn’t always guarantee that your new home will have the quality you expect, as these inspections might overlook comparatively minor issues, while a dedicated snag list should pick up on everything.
A snagging survey isn’t always necessary when buying a property. For example, when purchasing an older second-hand property a homebuyers’ survey would be more suitable. As this type of list is used to negotiate with the developer for further work, it’s most applicable for new build homes.
Completing a snagging list isn’t compulsory, but it’s useful when buying a new build off-plan or through the government’s Help to Buy scheme for first-time buyers. It can ensure that your finished property satisfies your expectations, rather than having to live with ongoing issues after moving in while the developer gives you the run-around – which they might try if you don’t have a warranty.
The developer isn’t obligated to provide a snagging survey for you, and they aren’t likely to offer, as many large developments are more concerned with quantity and speed than quality and attention to detail. Unless you have in-depth knowledge of construction yourself, you’re more likely to focus on superficial flaws during a DIY survey, and may not recognise the signs of more severe defects.
In these situations, it’s best to pass the responsibility to a qualified expert, who you can trust to carry out comprehensive inspections and push for resolutions to problems on your behalf. If you have a new build structural warranty in place, a surveyor should perform multiple inspections from the start of construction to right before completion, reducing the risk of undetected latent defects.
While professional inspections can take place at any point in the construction process, it’s best to do a dedicated snagging survey as closely as possible to completion. You can do this either before or after completion, but it’s best to assess the property before all work is finished and contracts signed, as the developers should be able to go back and correct the list of snags ahead of you moving in.
When you have a builder’s warranty or structural warranty that comes with the property, these policies usually give you 2 years from the property completion date to report more snags to the builder. After you move in, it’s important to document any defects you find with both written and photographic evidence from day one, so the builder can’t argue that you’re at fault for the damage.
A new build latent defects insurance policy, which is a type of 10-year structural warranty, can be an invaluable safety net if anything is missed off the snagging list. Not all defects are immediately noticeable, and some can take years to develop, long after the initial 2-year period expires. This is where the remaining 8 years of cover come in, easing the financial stress of repairing latent snags.
There are so many components in the construction of a house, but it’s necessary to check that every element has been implemented properly. Here’s a quick overview of what you should be inspecting:
Of course, this list is not exhaustive – and without prior experience in this area, you may not know what correct fittings should look like, or when a defect is minor and superficial or something serious.
As we’ve mentioned throughout, the easiest way to protect your financial investment in your new build house is to secure a structural warranty as early as possible. When you take out such a policy with a specialist provider like Architects Certificate, the key stage inspections can negate the need to carry out a separate snagging survey. Any problems will already be flagged in the regular reports.
Of course, you have the option of hiring a dedicated snagging surveyor, but this generates another bill, while you could take advantage of the reports included in the warranty you’re already paying for if you really wanted to create a new build snagging list. Additionally, you’d have to negotiate with the developer about snags yourself, whereas structural warranty claims give you some reassurance.
Do you think you could benefit from a new build structural warranty to help protect you against snags? Fill out our quick quote form online to receive your no-obligation quotation today, or contact our team with any enquiries by emailing email@example.com or calling 0161 928 8804.
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