Snagging Survey vs Building Survey for new builds - What are the differences?

When you buy a new-build property you rightly expect that it should be perfect, ready for you to move in your belongings and live comfortably without the upheaval of the associated projects an older property might need. And because their home is brand new, many buyers assume that a building survey is not required on their new build. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and many buyers are left disappointed when they start to spot issues in their new home, anything from small cracks and poor finishes, to some major safety concerns. You might think that the developer will do the inspections and snagging, but very often they do not. In one case we found a house where the developer had “forgotten” to connect the main drains to the street.  

They also hadn’t realised that chartered surveyors like us offer specialist snagging surveys for new build properties.

We have a couple of options available to give buyers peace of mind that their new build will meet their expectations for high quality and safety. These include snagging surveys or Homebuyer Reports.

What is a snagging survey?

A snagging survey is carried out on new-build homes. We attend the property and conduct a thorough review, inside and outside, looking at the brickwork, roofing, windows and doors, electrical and plumbing installations, drainage and guttering – even fencing or walls around the edge of the property.

Sometimes, we are retained to monitor the house through the build process. However, that can’t always be arranged as developers are reluctant to allow third parties onto their sites for valid health and safety, and insurance reasons. 

How much does a snagging survey cost?

The costs of our snagging surveys vary depending on the size of the property and where it is. As a general rule for a three-bedroomed property within an hour of our office, you’d be looking at around £650.

Is a snagging survey worth it?

Conducting a snag survey on a new build is important. You’ll inevitably look at the property yourself, taking a look round and pointing out the obvious to the property developer. Things like:

  • Fixtures and fittings not fitted level, or loose.
  • Carpenter’s pencil marks on joinery.
  • Loose socket plates.
  • Plastic frames scratched or cut by tools.
  • Loose sanitary-ware such as toilet pans that wobble and taps that are not fitted securely.
  • Poor decorations.
  • Badly fitted ironmongery.
  • Poorly fixed fences.

However, you won’t have the knowledge and expertise to spot the less obvious issues – serious faults that can have a major impact on your property and a significant cost at a later date, if not spotted early. They could even pose a risk to safety. These include:

  • Damp proof courses that have been bridged.
  • Badly fitted doors and windows.
  • Unconnected waste pipes and vents.
  • Drainage not connected to the road. 
  • Poorly fitted or even damaged staircases
  • Badly fitted coping stones causing water penetration.
  • Poorly-applied render.
  • Cumbersome and heavy sliding doors.
  • Poorly fitted flashings.

When is a snagging survey completed?

Collier Stevens has found this can vary depending on the developers and we work closely with our clients and the developers. Sometimes they do not want a surveyor onsite until the house is completed for safety and insurance purposes. On completion of the build the new owner has seven days to inspect the property and it is usually within this period that Collier Stevens will conduct our snagging survey.

Sometimes, if a builder is happy for us to visit before completion, Collier Stevens will do a level 2 survey which includes snagging. We’ve had clients who want surveys completed at different stages of the build, for example, one client wanted us to check the brickwork and roof (Phase 1 of the build) before Phase 2 of the project (the windows and fittings) started.

Of course, if it is an extension to your existing property, we can attend whenever you think it is needed. Some people even contact us before work is completed because they have concerns at an earlier stage.

Is a snagging survey different to a Homebuyer report?

Many new-build purchasers opt for a Homebuyer Report which is a Level 2 survey service carried out to a standard template format.

The Homesurvey report is not a detailed survey of every aspect of the property. It includes: 

  • The property’s general condition, specifically of the main building, garage and some outside elements.
  • Any significant defects in parts of the property that are accessible, which may affect its value.
  • Urgent and significant matters that need assessing before entering into exchanging contracts, including recommendations for any further specialist inspections.
  • The recommended reinstatement cost for insurance purposes (the anticipated costs of reconstructing a building in the event of damage by an insured risk such as a fire). This is not the same as the market value of the property.

Is a full building survey ever needed for new builds?

Not really. A level 3 report, or full building survey is a detailed and comprehensive inspection suitable for all properties. It is generally not required for new builds, unless there are very unusual features or you are planning to renovate, or alter it in any way.

More information

We’ve published a number of articles about our different building surveys and how to choose the right one. Take a look here:

If you are looking to buy a new build, get in touch with us for a free, no obligation quote for a snagging survey.

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