If you've bought a new-build home, you're probably expecting it to be absolutely perfect. Unfortunately, though, even the best new homes can have issues.
The good news is that, aside from occasional horror stories, most problems with new-build homes are cosmetic and easily fixed.
For that reason, a traditional survey is likely to be a little excessive - and this is where snagging surveys come in.
What is a snagging survey?
A snagging survey is designed to check for problems with a new-build home.
The best time to have a snagging survey done is the period between building work being finished and your legal completion date, so the developer has time to fix any snags before you move in.
However, some developers won't allow snagging inspections to be done before completion, and may deny access. If this is the case with your purchase, your conveyancer may be able to intervene with the developer and arrange access by invoking your legal interest in the property.
If this isn't possible, you should book the snagging survey as soon as you can after you've moved in. That way, the developer is still likely to be onsite, building the other houses, and you'll generally have a bit more leverage with them at this stage than further down the line.
That said, you can technically have a snagging survey done at any time during the first two years of living in a new-build home, and the developer must repair any defects reported during this period. It might just take a bit longer to get things sorted.
- Find out more: new-build homes - everything you need to know about buying a brand-new house or flat
What should a snagging survey include?
Unlike traditional house surveys, snagging surveys should pick up everything from minor issues, such as a door that doesn't close properly or a worktop with a dodgy finish, to more serious structural problems.
The most common issues picked up by snagging surveys tend to be with plastering, tiling, skirting boards and external brickwork.
Snagging survey costs
We recommend hiring a professional surveyor to conduct your snagging survey. While there isn't an official snagging qualification - and no standard snagging template is offered by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) or the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) - some surveying companies specialise in working with new-build homes.
Snagging surveys usually cost between £300 and £600. Given that you're investing thousands (or perhaps hundreds of thousands) of pounds in a new home, and the survey can spot major problems that may otherwise go unnoticed until your property is out of its warranty period, this is money well spent.
Professional surveyors usually report their findings directly to the developer, increasing the likelihood of issues being fixed quickly and (hopefully) taking some stress out of the process for you - though they will of course also send you a copy of your own.
DIY snagging surveys
If you have specialist knowledge, doing your own snagging survey could help you save money. If you're not an expert, though, it can be a confusing and drawn-out process.
If you do want to go it alone, make sure you do some research online and put together a comprehensive checklist of things to look out for.
You should also ask for confirmation that all the building work is finished before you do the survey - don't feel pressured to go ahead if any work is still outstanding, there's just no point.
When carrying out the survey, take your time and err on the side of caution. If something looks like it might be a snag or problem, include it on your snagging list, even if you aren't 100% sure. Snags can be reported at a later date, but it's best to be as thorough as possible from the start.
Regardless of who conducts the snagging survey, some defects might not become apparent until you've been living in the home for a while.
From the day you move in, add any problems to a snagging list and report them to the developer. Again, it's best to be cautious and include even small niggles.
If you've lived in the property for more than two years and you notice something major is wrong, you can make a claim under the 10-year NHBC warranty, which covers building defects on new-build homes.
The NHBC also provides a resolution service that you can use if you have a dispute with your developer over problems with your property.
- Find out more: what to do if your new-build home has problems