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New Homes Quality Board guidelines: What is a snagging defect?

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Despite developers’ best efforts, problems often arise with new build properties, and it is standard practice to compile a list of snagging items that need dealing with when homeowners move into their newly built home.

The New Homes Quality Code (NHQC) from the New Homes Quality Board (NHQB), has established best practice guidelines to ensure that new homes are built to a standard that protects the buyer’s interest. This regulatory framework seeks to maintain the integrity of new residential developments, offering homeowners assurance that their future residences adhere to the necessary standards of construction quality and safety.

New build homes will often come with the benefit of a new homes warranty, generally including a ten-year warranty in respect of structural issues and a shorter warranty given by the developer in respect of fixtures and fittings. It is under these warranties that a developer will return to the new home to rectify any snagging defects and items where the relevant standards have not been met. 

But what is a snagging defect?

The NHQB has helpfully defined snagging as “the process of finding and fixing any minor issues or defects that occur in new homes”. 

To understand whether customers shared this definition, the NHQB undertook research to clarify perspectives of snagging. This research demonstrated that homeowners have a limited understanding of what qualifies as a snag, resulting in expectations that can vary drastically from a developer’s own understanding of what requires rectification, leading to disputes.

To manage expectations and avoid potential disputes, clear guidelines must be set by developers on ‘snagging’, both for internal education purposes and for communication with customers.

The NHQB has recommended the following six step resolution, which will also assist developers in remaining compliant with clause 3.3 of the NHQC.

  1. Identify: Developers must ensure homes have been fully quality checked prior to completion and, ideally, identify snags prior to hand over. 
  2. Report: Developers should clearly communicate the snagging process to customers from the start and, where customers find a problem, developers should ensure customers can easily report problems that are found as part of the after-sales service.
  3. Acknowledge: Developers should acknowledge receipt of the customer’s snagging report immediately.
  4. Inform: Developers should inform customers of the next steps within one to two days.
  5. Fix: Developers should fix the problem as soon as possible and, where this is not possible, explain why there are delays to the customer and set a clear date for when it will be rectified. In any event, developers should aim to rectify any issues within 30 days. 
  6. Follow-Up: Developers should follow up with customers following resolution of the snag to ensure they are happy with the outcome. If they are not, developers should inform customers of their right to contact the New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHQS) if an acceptable solution cannot be agreed.

It is clear that the NHQB expects clear communication between a developer and the customer so that the customer’s expectations are managed from the very beginning of the snagging process. 

Many customers expect there to be an element of finishing issues with new build properties, however, disputes arise from issues in communication around what customers can expect from their new home and, crucially, how and when developers intend to resolve any snags.

Article co-authored by Megan Mitchell

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