Whilst many of the issues on a snagging survey will be highlighting poor workmanship, we often find fundamental build issues..
Brick, render and stones are all porous and it is important for cavity trays to be installed to catch penetrating rainwater in the cavity and expel through weep holes. On this house all but 1 window had a cavity tray, and the failure to have installed it here was showing clear signs: the internal living room window reveal paintwork was peeling away and there was a high moisture reading to the bricks at the lintel where the water was trapped.
One of unique selling points as a snagging company is our ability and expertise checking for cavity wall insulation issues. The importance of cavity wall insulation is to prevent air flow as this allows heat to easily escape. As shown here in a new build snagging survey carried out by our inspector Lee just last week, this house had extensive voids and rubble.
The issue with rubble is that it can sit on wall ties or group between the block and brick and act as a conductor for damp ingress.
The attitude that a lot of builders will give in response to rectifying issues is that they build to tolerance. This is troubling to hear considering for an issue to be out of tolerance it has to be quite severe (noticeable to an untrained eye), so why do they aim to produce houses that are only meeting this standard?
Snagging a new build house is a specialist process and we know what to look for. Here we share our most common more 'major' issues... note that all the following examples are taken from inspections carried out in the past couple of days...
#7 - Cracks
As a professional snagging company, we often find external cracking to brickwork or rendered houses, or we find a lack of preparation to prevent it (as shown below).
Internally most cracks are a cause of shrinkage, but there are tolerances that we check for with our measure ruler gauge.
#6 - Roof issues
Most of the claims submitted through the NHBC are regarding roofs, so it is not surprise that we often find issues with verges, roof tiles, chimney stacks and guttering (as shown below on a snagging inspection carried out this week). We use a special camera to assist us to inspect areas out of normal view.
#5 - Fenestration
Windows frames and glass can often be scratched (including patio windows), but they can also be installed incorrectly. When snagging it is important to check the glazing bars are correctly level / straight. It is also important that any damage is recorded quickly to avoid the developer refusing liability (as they may say it was caused during cleaning, moving furniture in post-completion).
#4 - Walls and ceilings not being level
We use levels to check walls and ceiling levels. Like most issues, there are tolerances associated to such snagging issues. An example from a snagging survey carried out today is shown below:
#3 - Leaks
On average we find at least 1 leak in a house 50% of the time we carry out a snagging inspection. This is because we spend the extra time to check overflows on baths and sinks.
Unfortunately often clients find out too late, until the water comes through the ceiling.
#2 - Lack of insulation
Whether in the loft or cavity walls, we often find a lack of insulation which needs identifying at the earliest possible stage to prevent heat loss (and more expensive heating bills!)
#1 - Heating
When our snaggers inspect the heating, we use thermal cameras to identify radiators under-performing or incorrect installations. This is our most common 'major' issue because the remedy can be often extremely destructive... As highlighted on a previous blog, the ceilings can often be pulled down to find the cross pipe location when thermostats are linked up with the wrong level.
Today we discovered another heating installation issue. The upstairs and downstairs thermostat were incorrectly connected. To rectify this is typically a huge job requiring pulling apart ceilings to find where the cross connection is located.
On a new build snagging inspection we find such issues more commonly that you'd think. This week alone we found two houses with exactly the same issue.
The poor workmanship from the heating and plumbing company was further demonstrated by a major leak from the upstairs ensuite shower and sink.
This Builder was a "4 star builder", which shows that it has little relevance to the quality of house handed over
As a new building snagging company, we pride ourselves on having the gear (as well as the idea!) of how to snag a house. The reason we can confidently say we are the market leading snagging company is that competitors typically either (a) walk around with no tools and only produce a dictated then typed report or (b) attempt to copy what we do!!
Conversely, our professional snagging inspectors carry specialist tools ranging from borescopes to thermal cameras. This goes to show our process is not similar to the process any site will go to when snagging a house. Our inspectors are employed (not subcontracted) with many years experience in the building industry: Our qualifications range from a Masters Degree in Building Surveying, Domestic Energy Assessor certified by the BBA and an Advanced Certificate in Building Thermography.
Whilst some other snagging companies may charge less than us, it prompts the question are you getting the same value for money?
Shrinkage in new build houses happens up to approx. 1 year after completion. Some faults can occur throughout this period where the house is settling; doors mis-aligning and tiles separating being examples other than cracks appearing.
But often it is due to the fundamentals of joinery not being correctly installed. The following examples from recent snagging inspections show that window sills, newel posts and architraves all haven't been installed properly and it is a rather difficult job to remedy...
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
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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