Around 160,000 homes are built each year in normal market conditions. In 2005 the average number of snags per home was 62, an increase of 18%. The 350 inspectors employed by the NHBC, made over a million inspections of new homes last year. There were 7362 complaints to the NHBC and over 70% found in favour of the homeowner – (source NHBC website.)

It has been said the reason new homes have so many faults is because “too many are built too quickly”. However those within the industry realise that lower standards are a direct result of either poor site management or the build programme required to ensure end of year targets are achieved. It has little to do with the quantity of houses being built.


A Mori new homeowners survey in 2003, commissioned by the Housing Forum, found that 83% of buyers were satisfied with their new home. Furthermore 65% were satisfied with the service they received from their house builder. Over half the people surveyed (55%) would want another new home and 88% were pleased they bought the home they did. A further 46% of those surveyed would recommend their house builder. For more on the survey click [download pdf]

What is snagging?

"Snagging" is a word used to describe the process of checking for faults or defects in a property and correcting them before the property is handed over to the new owner. Snagging can and should be carried out as an ongoing process throughout every stage of the construction of your new home. It should not be confined to ‘fault finding’ once the property is completed, although this is often the case.

Snagging is probably the most contentious issue in the house building industry. Quality is a personal subjective assessment. No two people will agree on exactly the same assessment for the same ‘defect’. Quality of finish can often be overlooked during the buying process, but once a buyer has moved in, perceived problems can grow out of all proportion to the overall performance of the new home.

Snagging should be divided into two categories: i) Functionality - to check that everything in the new home actually works as it should: (windows open, doors close, fans and cookers are connected, taps do not drip, gutters do not leak etc.). ii) Aesthetic - to check that the quality of the finish is to an acceptable standard. What is an 'acceptable standard' is the big question - if it looks right, generally it is right. If you would accept this standard in your own home then it is normally considered acceptable. There are guides to what is acceptable; the NHBC have a guide "A consistent approach to finishes" which is used by their inspectors and claims investigators to set down allowable tolerances for guidance in disputes over what is an acceptable quality of finish. It is this 'perception of quality' that can cause friction between house builder and buyer.

House builder’s snagging and quality control procedures.

Most of the larger national builders have a control system in place to ensure that each new home meets their standards. However, as stated previously, this can be very different from your own standards. In the first instance the site manager should carry out a thorough examination of the property both inside and out and make a comprehensive list of items requiring attention. The tradesmen concerned will then attend to these items with the site manager checking that the faults or defects have been satisfactorily addressed.

It is then normal for the sales advisor to walk through the property and view it 'through a buyer’s eyes'. At this time a manager from the builder’s office may also check that the property is to the required standard. When any further items noted have subsequently been attended to, an independent building inspector, generally from the NHBC, will check that the property meets the requirements of the building regulations and NHBC standards and has been finished to enable occupation. This inspector is not required to thoroughly snag the property and does not withhold the completion (CML) certificate for quality related issues. There may be minor items that require attention and these will be noted by the inspector and are referred to as ‘green’ items. In the unlikely event any major ‘red’ items are found, the CML certificate will not be issued.

Once the CML certificate has been issued you are normally invited to view your new home ahead of the occupation date and will be instructed how to use the various fixtures and fittings by the site manager or his assistant. You will have an opportunity to mention anything you are not happy with and this is a good time to do so. However your new home will be to a much higher standard of finish than any second hand home.

Be aware that your fixtures and fittings could be damaged during snagging works, so do not sign confirming these as being undamaged until you are given all the keys to your new home.

There are organisations that offer specialist snagging services who can inspect and 'snag' your new home for you. Charges for snagging services vary from £300 for a one-bedroom property to over £480 for a six-bedroom house. Click to see a FREE DIY Home Inspection Checklist. Do not worry if you do not understand some of the technical terminology. The house builder should have checked these points during his snagging.

If anything does go wrong with your new house, inform the site manager as soon as possible and confirm this in writing with the builder’s regional office.


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New Home Snagging & Quality

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