Snagging Surveys: What Are They & When Should You Get One?

A ‘snagging survey’ might have been offered to you by a building surveyor prompting you to consider if you need to have one conducted. Buying a new property should mean that you are getting a home in perfect condition, however, due to time constraints or limitations, this unfortunately isn’t always the case. To find any remaining issues, you will need to have a ‘snagging survey’. 

So what is a snagging survey, and when should you get one? After buying or working on a property, an authorised third-party surveyor should conduct a ‘snagging survey’. This survey is to identify any defects, also known as ‘snags’, that may still exist. You should have the survey just as work has completed, or shortly after. 

Homeowners are responsible for reporting any snags once the builders have signed off on the house and there is a 2-year period, but you would ideally want to have a snagging survey completed before work has been signed off by the contractor or developer. 

Find out everything you need to know about snagging surveys, and what they could mean to you financially if snags get left. 

What Is A Snagging Survey?

A ‘snag’ is a small issue that is often considered to be a low priority by the people who either built or conducted work on the property. Due to time and commercial constraints, these less important jobs sometimes get missed and are left uncompleted at the end of the project. The term ‘snag’ is often used within the field of construction to refer to these small issues that are intended to be finished later. Once the work has reportedly been completed, they may be more appropriately called ‘defects’. 

Who Needs A Snagging Survey?

A snagging survey is worth investing in as the cost of correcting issues later down the line can build up. This is especially true if the problems at hand are to the structure of the building, or involve expensive materials. 

Many developers will tell you they undertake their own snagging procedure and in most construction contracts it is true snagging technically falls under the responsibility of the contractor. However, some are better than others and ultimately, there is a big incentive to get a sale through as quickly as possible. With labour shortages and financial pressures, even the best developers will let a few small things through the net that could bug you when you move in.

You will need a snagging survey if you have:

  • just bought a brand-new, newly built home or commercial property or;
  • had extensive remodelling or an extension.

Snagging surveys are different to pre-acquisition surveys as they are less comprehensive and won’t include holistic advice around general risks to the property, legal matters, site risks, environmental risk, remedial options or costs. For a full pre-acquisition survey, view our dedicated service page on Pre-Acquisition Surveys. 

Do I Need A Survey On A New Build?

When buying any property that has just been built, you should want to have that work surveyed for snags. It is an unfortunate aspect of modern construction that jobs aren’t always completed to a satisfactory standard. This isn’t necessarily the fault of anyone in particular, but the reality of buying a new home. 

The change from building site to home is never complete, and you will find many common issues the more time you spend in your new property. 

In our experience, we often find the following snags with brand-new properties:

  • Insufficient loft insulation
  • Damaged tiles
  • Thin or badly textured paint
  • Ill-fitting doors
  • Poor decorative finishes
  • Leaky plumbing
  • Poor wiring (especially lighting)

You have a limited amount of time to bring up any issues with a new build or renovated property. Here in the UK, you have up to 2 years to report any snags to your builders where, if the snagging complaint is upheld, the company must correct it. 

However, If you’ve lived in the property for more than two years and you notice something is wrong structurally, you can still make a claim under the 10-year NHBC warranty, which covers building defects on new-build homes.

In the spirit of moving into a new home, it is hard to find an issue with small snags as everything is new. Having impartial and trained eyes enter the property before your moving day is therefore heavily recommended. 

Is It Worth Getting a Snagging Survey on a New Build?

We would always recommend getting a snagging survey on a new property. Considering the price of a new-build house in 2023 is 

  • £245,000 to £365,000 for a 3-bed and
  • £295,000 to £440,000 for a 4-bed.

It would be as little as 0.1% of the total price of the property in both these cases. Put into simpler terms, the maximum cost of having your whole house surveyed for snags is around the same price as getting a new front door fitted. 

Even in situations where a developer remedies issues you find, the time often involved dealing with these defects is worth more to you than the cost of snagging survey; once you consider your admin time and potential stress. That’s just small defects, big issues can drag on for years and even effect the resale of the house. 

Do I Need a Snagging Survey after a Renovation or Extension?

When getting involved in any property that has just had work completed on it, you should want to have that work surveyed for snags. It is an unfortunate aspect of modern construction that jobs aren’t always completed to a satisfactory standard. This isn’t necessarily the fault of anyone in particular, but the reality of making alterations to a house or commercial property. 

As an old house is restored or extended, joins are made between old and new brickwork,  joinery and flooring. These areas are highly susceptible to error or subsidence if sufficient surveys are conducted on the land before the work has begun. 

We therefore suggest having these newly joined areas thoroughly surveyed for possible issues in the future. 

Is A Snagging Survey Worth It?

Snagging surveys can cost between £300 – £600, depending on the agency, location, size of the property and number of rooms. This cost is often offset against hidden costs involved with any possible faults with the property. Considering the average house price in the UK for 2023 is £288,000, they are relatively affordable and are worthwhile in the long run. The common issues found when we do snag surveys might include:

  • a door that doesn’t shut properly;
  • a kitchen or bathroom worktop that doesn’t fit flush to points where it connects or meets the wall;
  • skirting boards fitting unevenly where they meet in the corner of a room;
  • tiling issues including uneven or smeared grouting;
  • loose plumbing or the fixture of plumbed items such as sinks, toilets, showers and baths. 

The cost of correcting these services can quickly add up if they aren’t completed correctly. Snagging surveys can also pick out hidden costs, such as energy inefficiencies to the roof or walls, that can save you money in the long run.

When Should You Get a Snagging Survey Done?

These snags usually do fall within the remit of the original crew who built the house, so you shouldn’t have to pay out of your own pocket to have these issues resolved. However, once the building crew has left the site, it is often difficult to get them to return and take responsibility for the issues that remain. You therefore need to get a snagging survey before the workers have left the site, or at least very shortly afterwards. 

You do get up to 2 years to legally complain about any snags that remain on your property, and 10 years for serious complaints which are upheld through the NHBC warranty, which covers building defects on new-build homes.

However, in practice, after you’ve completed the sale it can be difficult at the best of times to get snagging issues fixed, so we’d always advise getting a snagging survey prior to making the purchase. 

Can You Do Your Own Snagging Survey?

Yes, you can do your own snagging survey. However, documenting snags isn’t always easy for the general public and they can often be left unnoticed until it is too late to do anything about them. A snagging survey is a standardised check on any agreed-upon work taken out by a third party. This means that an impartial surveyor will review the work taken out by a team of builders and find any work that is unsatisfactory by their impartial standards. 

These checks can be on almost anything that may incur additional costs to the homeowner further down the line and that should have been completed as part of the reasonable expectations of the original builders. 

Of course, some snags will be immediately apparent to you once you start living in your new build, renovation or extension. However, some other issues might take a while to become apparent, such as ill-fitted plumbing, or if inappropriate materials have been used in joints or closed-in places such as lofts or wall cavities. 

Getting advice from professionals provides advice with a deep understanding of how things should go together, and when they haven’t quite been done in the way they should. Most importantly, its understanding whether a minor discrepancy is important and can lead to further problems. Our surveyors will help you prioritise the defects found and we can often advise on any justification the developer may come back with. 

You will quite often hear “building control have signed it off” but surprisingly, their remit doesn’t cover quality assurance or all aspects of workmanship. Thats why its important you take advice from your own professional snagging inspector. 

Snagging Surveys With RICS Accredited Fourth Wall BC

When it comes to snagging surveys, we understand that you need someone who you can trust will carry out a thorough survey on your new property or renovation. Our Chartered Surveyors have years of experience in building surveying, so we know what to expect when viewing a property. 

If you’re buying a new home, getting in touch with our snagging surveyors could save you not only thousands of pounds but also months of effort chasing up snags once the builders have left. Get in touch via our contact form, or by sending us an email. Call our Sheffield office on 0114 400 0254 or our Manchester office on 0161 706 11311.

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