snag list for new builds - flooring should be level and shouldn't creak excessively

12 things to check off your new-build snag list

Important snagging and paperwork checks to make before moving into your new home

By Karen Stylianides | 1 October 2021

There are a few essential steps to take once the building, decorating and installation work of your home is pretty much finished. There’s the snag list, but you will also need a formal completion certificate from your local authority before you can move in, as well as various warranties, electrical safety and benchmark certificates.

The snag list

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

It is an accepted practice in the building industry that you hold back around 2.5-5% 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 snag 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 and employed individual trades, you’ll need to negotiate the snagging process with each of them, which can sometimes be tricky as it may not be clear who is responsible for each particular problem.

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. Photo: Darren Chung

Which faults to look out for

1. Paintwork: 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.

2. Heating: 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?

3. Plumbing: Run the taps to make sure 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.

4. Kitchen: Make sure all the cabinet drawers slide in and out smoothly and that the doors open and close – and align evenly when closed. Have all the shelves been fitted where they were supposed to be, are the tiles grouted and the kitchen sink area sealed?

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

6. Carpets and flooring: Are the floor tiles and carpets level and fixed securely?

7. Bathrooms: Check that the tiles have been grouted, and that the basins and baths are sealed. Make sure plugs and light cords have been fitted and test the extractor fan.

8. Doors: Open and shut all the doors, both internal and external, to make sure they all fit snugly. Ensure external locks are working, not just for security, but for insurance purposes.

9. Drainage: Inspect the gutters and downpipes and make sure they are securely fixed and leak-free during rainfall and that all gullies and drains are free from debris.

10. Lighting: Are all the fittings secure and working?

11. Electrics: Use a plug-in night light to check that all sockets work.

12. Roof coverings: Take a look to see if any tiles or slates are cracked or appear loose and that all lead flashings are complete and secure. Ask your roofer to take pictures of the finished work if you can’t gain access to view it yourself.