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Your Guide to New Builds and Snagging

Please note that the information herein is of a general nature and you should not act or refrain from acting on it without professional advice on the specific facts of your case. No liability is accepted by the author or Sykes Anderson Perry Limited in respect of this article. This is a basic outline only and is intended only as a general guide.

Looking for a property in pristine condition? Surely this is guaranteed if you buy a newly built property off plan? We are afraid this is often not so.

Before you are required to complete your purchase, the property would have passed building regulations inspections and have been issued with a structural warranty from an approved insurance policy provider (such as NHBC or BLP). However, this does not mean the property will be free from snagging issues.

So what is snagging? The very name is enough to put you off. A snag is a minor fault found in a new build which needs to be rectified. Examples of snags include the following:

  • surface defects to woodwork, paintwork, glazing and tiling;

  • leaking taps;

  • unlevel surfaces; and

  • chips, scratches, splashes of paint and cracks.

The builder should have checked for and remedied any snagging issues before completion, though it is unlikely they would have picked up on everything.

So where to start with snagging? You should be offered an opportunity to visit the property once it has been built. This is the ideal opportunity to make a list of all the defects in the property which need to be fixed. You may find it helpful to place markers next to the defects so they can be easily located in future.

When should I make a snagging list? The ideal time would be as soon as the property is built and before completion if your builder will allow you access to the property during this time. The builder will also have more incentive to fix any problems if they are brought to light before completion. If you are unable to gain access to the property before completion, you should make the snagging list as soon as possible thereafter. It is best to keep a written record of the items you have identified and agreed that the builder will remedy.

The later you leave it the more likely it is the builder will argue that you caused the damage when moving in.

How should I go about asking the builder to fix the defects? The builder should be responsible for fixing any defects you have identified however it is best to come to an agreement in writing about the items they will fix. If the items are to be fixed after you move into the property you should agree a time and date for them to return to the property. They should provide you with reasonable notice before coming to fix the items. Most experienced house builders will have a procedure in place to deal with snagging items.

Under the property’s warranty the builder is obliged to rectify any major structural defects notified to them within two years of completion. However, guidelines are subjective and the builder may argue that something you consider to be a defect is in fact not. It will come down to negotiations. Keeping things amicable with the builder is likely to produce the best outcome. If there is a dispute between you and the builder which you are unable to resolve your warranty provider can offer a resolution service free of charge.

How can I obtain further information and advice regarding new builds or snagging? At Sykes Anderson Perry we are able to advise both developers and purchasers in relation to all aspects of new build transactions. For further information please contact Gemma Wright or Charlotte O’Leary.

June 2017
Charlotte O’Leary
Solicitor