New-build snagging checklist - Grand Designs Magazine
snag list for new builds - flooring should be level and shouldn't creak excessively

New-build snagging checklist

Before moving into your new home, these are the essential paperwork and snag checks you need to make

By Staff writer |

You must take a few essential steps once your home’s building, decorating and installation work has been finished. This is because you must get a formal completion certificate from your local authority before moving in. The certificate is important as it shows that all the main stages of the building works have been finished to a satisfactory standard and that all the various conditions of planning permission and Building Regulations have been successfully met. Getting this final stage requires a snagging inspection, where you get the opportunity to walk around the property and note any defects. Here’s what you need to look out for.

Snagging inspection date

You should have been given a guide completion date by your contractor – ideally this will have been written into your building contract. Once that date is reached and you are nearly ready to move into your new home, your contractor should notify you or your surveyor, project manager or home-building package supplier that the property requires inspection.

If everything is in place for handover, the formal application to the local authority can be made for the official completion certificate to be produced. This is one of the most important official documents you’ll be given. Without it, your project is not proven to be built and finished to a satisfactory standard and you won’t officially be allowed to live in it.

The certificate doesn’t prove that there aren’t any hidden problems and it isn’t an insurance cover, but if you ever decide to sell your home, the buyer will ask to see this documentation. You should also bear in mind that you won’t be able to apply to HMRC to reclaim VAT without one. Inspection will usually involve a visit and a look around the site, plus the testing of equipment.

Getting paperwork

If you wish to move into the property before the completion certificate is issued, you can do so, but you’ll need to arrange for a Building Control officer to inspect it first with a view to issuing you a temporary occupancy certificate.

You will acquire many other certificates over the course of your self-build project, such as warranties and electrical safety certificates. And you’ll need to find an accredited domestic energy assessor to undertake an energy performance certificate (EPC).

Ask your contractor or individual tradespeople for any manufacturers’ warranty certificates. If a problem should occur in the future, these warranties may enable you to make a claim.

The snagging inspection

Before you move in, you need to complete one more job: the snagging inspection. This should take place shortly after the completion certificate has been issued. It will involve you or your project manager, or both, walking around the house with the contractor, or individual trades, with both parties noting any defects. If carried out correctly, it will take quite a while, possibly a day. You may find it useful to ask your architect to attend, to help with any debatable points.

It is an accepted practice in the building industry that you hold back between 2.5% and 5% of the agreed contract price to cover any snagging work – although you should make sure that this is written into your contract at the start of the project. You will need to write a detailed list of everything that needs to be fixed and sorted out before you settle your contractor’s final bill. If you don’t feel that the work on the list meets your standards, you’ll then have money to employ another contractor to complete it rather than paying out twice for the same tasks.

If you’ve project-managed the work and employed individual trades, you’ll need to negotiate the snagging process with all of them, which can be tricky as it may not be clear who is responsible for each problem.

Areas to consider

During the snagging inspection, these are some of the possible faults to look out for.


Check that all the painted surfaces are of a good standard. Newly plastered walls will often require several coats of paint, for instance. If you notice any rough spots, the surface will need to be sanded down and repainted.


Turn on the heating system and check everything is working properly. If any radiators fail to warm up evenly, they may need to be bled. Carry out a similar check on any wet underfloor heating. Are all the zones working and have they been connected to the thermostats properly?


Run the taps to ensure they work and that the water from the hot tap is warming up. Fill the sink and allow water to escape down the overflow. Then empty the sink and check for leaks beneath it.


Make sure all the cabinet drawers slide in and out smoothly and that the doors open and shut, aligning evenly when closed. Have all the shelves been fitted properly, are the tiles grouted and the kitchen sink area sealed?

Skirting boards

Check that all the boards have been nailed on, filled in and then sanded and painted.

Carpets and flooring

Are the floor tiles and carpets level and fixed securely? Are the floors level?

Grand Designs treehouse in Gloucestershire
Flooring should be level and shouldn’t creak excessively. Photo: Paul Ryan-Goff


Check that the tiles have been grouted, and that the basins and baths are sealed. Fill the bath and sink and allow water to escape down the overflow. Then empty both and check that there aren’t any leaks. Make sure plugs and light cords have been fitted and test the extractor fan.


Open and shut all the doors, both internal and external, to make sure they fit snugly. Ensure that external locks are working correctly, not just for security, but for insurance purposes. Check for any damage or scratches.

snagging checklist for new builds - check all the windows and doors open, close and lock
Look for scratches on external doors, particularly around the frame edges when ticking off your snagging list. Photo: Darren Chung


Inspect all the gutters and downpipes and make sure they are securely fixed and leak-free during rainfall, and that all gullies a•nd drains are free from debris.


Are all the fittings secure and working?


Use a plug-in night light to check that all the power sockets work.

Roof coverings

Check whether any tiles or slates are cracked or loose and that lead flashings are complete and secure. Ask your roofer to take pictures if you can’t gain access to view it yourself.

What else should you look out for?

Advice from TV presenter, property expert and social entrepreneur Kunle Barker on how to deal with defects

  • Identifying imperfections is an important process to get right at the end of a build. Any problems overlooked could turn out to be costly to correct, so it’s vital that they are picked up at this stage.
  • The National House Building Council  has a useful guide to the industry standards for finishes, which outlines tolerances and guidelines for work such as tiling, brickwork, plastering and flooring. If anything falls outside of these tolerances and guidelines, then you should insist that the works are rectified.
  • But even these guidelines can be open to interpretation, so it’s always best to try and decide the things you will and won’t compromise on. This will help you to focus on what is important in your home. With subjective defects, you may be able to negotiate with your contractor. It might be helpful to get your architect to be part of the inspection process.
  • Be wary of asking other builders for advice on checks for defects – they may be a little overzealous when it comes to evaluating other tradespeople’s work.