At HomeSnag, we are passionate about customers getting the most out of their new build house. After all, it is likely to be the biggest investment you will ever make. And yet building companies notoriously are defensive when customers request us around prior to completion.
We often get asked "who is the best / worst builder". The answer is that we could go to one large 5 star builder one day and it could be a fantastic finish, the next day on a different site by the same company and the quality is horrendous. Similarly we can go to an independent builder with only 5 houses on the site (so typically you'd think the attention to detail would be improved according to quality not quantity) but they fail to meet building regs and tolerances throughout. The quality of finish to your new build house ultimately depends on three factors:-
- The time of year
- The quality of tradesman
- The eye for detail from the site's snagging process, if carried out at all
The time of year is important because construction companies have financial deadlines they have to meet. Typically this is June and December. It is no coincidence that these months are our busiest months as a professional snagging company! They often push customers into a substandard home to reach their bonus. We went to one house last week and the customers were forced into completion, only to find no flooring laid. They had paid extras in the region of £10k and walked in to a shell.
The rating [large volume] construction companies have are according the the HBF survey. This reaches out to customers 2 months after their completion and they need customers to say they'd recommend them to a friend. Notoriously Bovis have gone down to a 2 star building rating due to most of their customers answering "NO" to this question!
So, conversely does this mean that the quality of a 5 star builder is better? Well, this is not always the case. All of the below photographs are taken from the past few months and are all 5 star builders.
In conclusion, we believe the more adamant the builders are to not allow us in before completion, the more important it is to enforce it. It also highlights the importance to get us around as soon as possible, certainly within the 2 month timeframe the builders look to get a positive HBF survey score from you.
Snagging Pictures demonstrate: Smashed toilet, missing insulation, smashed window, damaged dormer beyond repair and isolator switches for the kitchen located in the dining room
Unfortunately an element of why the quality of new build houses has declined in our opinion is due to the 2008 recession which set a lot of quality tradesmen out of work.
One area we particularly feel was effected was quality bricklayers. One way in which to test the quality of workmanship is to look up at the wall and see whether the "perp" joints are in a plumb line or not. As shown in the below photograph from a recent new build snagging inspection, the unequal perp joints created quite a noticeable wavy gable wall.
During our inspection we also check for bricks not level and that adequate cavity tray installation has been installed.
On a new build snagging survey we don't just raise issues for aesthetic improvement, we often raise fundamental issues that have been missed. Two examples from this past week include a chimney / gable wall not built plumb and window ledges not installed level.
Whilst it may cause no immediate concern, such issues could go missed until too late until a survey in the future raises it; leaving you to foot the bill rather than the developer making it right within their warranty. As a rule of thumb, the cost of a snagging inspection could save you money in the future!...
If you are moving in during the summer, it is safe to say testing the heating system is an unlikely thing on your checklist! During our new build snagging inspection, we check that not only radiators are fully heating but fundamentally if they been correctly connected. What we mean by this is shown in the example photographs from recent inspections: sometimes we find that the heating engineers accidentally connect ground floor thermostats to the upstairs heating loop. This may sound simple enough, but it can actually be one of the most destructive issues to investigate; because to find the cross-connection often means cutting throughout the ceiling and pulling apart tiling etc to find it.
When booking your inspection on your home, you will be offered whether you'd like our snagging inspector to inspect the cavity wall insulation using a borescope. This is to ensure that enough cavity wall insulation has been blown in.
We are asked how often we find issues, and the answer is approximately 40% of the time. This week alone we encountered 2 houses that had a severe lack of cavity wall insulation as shown from the 2 screenshots from reports below.
During a snagging inspection we don't check the house according to plans, however we often find it obvious when installations have been completed ad hoc.
The few examples shown in the photos demonstrate how the builders have:-
All the customers from these properties had completed which goes to show that the inspection process by builders / NHBC (etc) doesn't always identify fundamental flaws out of tolerance / according to building regulations,
Checking a wall is 'square' is important for a few reasons as shown in the below example photographs from recent snagging inspections. Hard floor coverings with a grout line such as tiles will show clearly walls that haven't been installed equidistantly. This is the most common cause encountered, but walls that aren't straight can also have an adverse (and obvious) effect of bowing skirting boards.
Ideally we recommend booking a professional snagging inspection before flooring is laid to anticipate problems before it is too late.
As a standard process during a snagging inspection, we check for internal and external leaks present / potential issues in the future. A few examples from a recent inspection below shows externally the cavity tray was positioned incorrectly as the weep holes were too high, all downpipes weren't connected properly, blocked gutter trays and air bricks were at ground level.
Internally, whilst there was no immediate sign of leaks, the moisture meter raised a clear reading around the ensuite partition wall. Having ruled out the potential of the nearby radiator leaking with a thermal camera (showing the pipe ran away from the area) it prompted the suggestion of the toilet waste pipe.
...This last example is a good reason alone to have us conduct a new build snagging inspection in haste of flooring being laid; this would have not been as obvious and would have damaged the floor covering too.
A Snaggers Blog
HomeSnag inspectors are experts at inspecting new-build houses. This blog shares real examples and publications to demonstrate the importance of getting your home snagged.
"I always insist that there is specific provision for snagging," says Thomas Moran, partner at law firm Speechly Bircham. "Reputable developers do this anyway, but there are all sorts in the market, some big, some small, so you need a contractual promise than within, say, a year they will come back to remedy any minor defects in the finishing."
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