Ensure your project is completely perfect before signing off on the build.

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Building your own home is not necessarily a quick process. For some, the self-build journey can take years to get from planning to completion. And, the waiting game can be frustrating, especially if you’re living in temporary accommodation. But before you rush headfirst into your new home, you need to make sure that you have all the consents and certificates in place, and that you are happy with the finished product.

Official certification 

You should have been given a guide completion date from your contractor, which will ideally have been written into your building contract. Once the date is reached and your home is nearly ready to be moved into, your contractor should notify you or your surveyor, project manager or homebuilding package supplier that the house requires an inspection and, if everything is in place for handover, the formal application to the local authority can be made for the official completion certificate. 

It’s one of the most important official documents you’ll be given during your self-build. Without it, your project will not be proven to have been built and finished to a satisfactory standard and won’t officially be allowed to be used as a place to live in.  

You’ll also acquire many other certificates over the course of your self-build project, things like warranties, electrical safety and hot-water certificates, for example, and you’ll need to f ind an accredited domestic energy assessor to undertake an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

Snagging check

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Before you move into your new home, there is one final job to complete: the snagging inspection. It should take place within a short period after the completion certif icate i s issued. It will involve either you or your project manager (or both) walking around the house with your contractor, or individual trades, with both parties noting any defects that they spot. If done correctly, it will take quite a few hours, often up to more than half a day. You may find it useful to ask your architect to attend the inspection, to help negotiate on 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 snags, although you should make sure that this is written into your contract at the start of the project. 

Read more: Completing your build: what does snagging mean?

What to look out for

  • Check that everything has been painted and look to see if anything needs a second coat. Newly plastered walls will often require several coats. 
  • Run your hands over all the plasterwork. If you feel any rough spots, they’ll need to be sanded down and repainted. 
  • Thoroughly check the kitchen. Make sure all the drawer is slide in and out properly and doors open and close and align with other doors and cupboards. Have all the shelves been fitted where they were supposed to be and any tiling grouted and the kitchen-sink area sealed?
  • Skirting boards. Check that all the boards have been nailed on properly, f illed in and then sanded and painted.
  • In the bathroom, check that tiling is grouted and basins and baths are sealed. Make sure plugs and light cords have been fitted and test the extractor fan functions correctly.
  • Inspect the gutters and downpipes and make sure they are securely f ixed and leak-free during rainfall and that all gullies and drains are free from debris.
  • Take a look to see if any roof tiles or slates are cracked or appear loose and that all lead flashings are complete and secure. Ask your roofer to take photos of the finished work if you are unable to physically gain access to view the roof yourself.

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Once you’re happy that everything on your snagging list is fixed, you’re free to move in and enjoy your new self-build. Make sure you ask your contractor or individual tradespeople for any manufacturers’ warranty certificates. That way, if a problem does occur in the future, you have the benefit of the warranty to make a claim against the manufacturer.


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