New build homeowner tries to claim for snagging issues

Snagging issues may arise when there are defects or problems with a new build property. Perhaps there’s a scratch or chips on a tile or paintwork, a problem with the light switch or issues with a door hinge. Snags are usually minor defects but they can be frustrating for homeowners. As a new home builder or developer, it is your responsibility to ensure that the home is snag-free and ready to be lived in. Inevitably, you will carry out an inspection once the property is complete, but things can still be missed.

If a homeowner is not happy with the new build due to snags they may lodge a formal complaint with you, contact your warranty provider or even go to the New Homes Ombudsman Service to gain compensation and remedial action. So what should you do if you receive a complaint about snags in a new build property?

Speak to the new homeowner

The first thing that the homeowner should do is bring the defects to your attention. The property will have passed standard building regulations, but cosmetic issues may still come up.

The homeowner has two years from the date of completion to raise any snagging issues with you and you have a duty to resolve the problems in a timely manner. It’s a good idea to have a process or policy in place to deal with snag issues. This should outline your exact procedure so that all staff members are on the same page and solutions are streamlined. It is likely that if a complaint goes under the radar and you don’t handle it swiftly, the homeowner will get frustrated and potentially escalate the complaint further.

If the homeowner has moved into the property when they bring the problems to you, it may be harder to work out whether it was you or them who caused the defect. To prevent this, you could ask the homeowners to carefully assess the property as soon as they move in to make sure they are happy with everything. This way, issues can be resolved fairly quickly. It’s a good idea to listen to the homeowner and try and help them as much as you can rather than dismissing their complaints.

Review the snagging list

The best time for a homeowner to notify you of snags is before exchange and completion as this will give you a chance to address the issues before they move in. In this case, it is also more likely that the snags were caused by you, rather than something that the homeowner may have done themself. As such, you know that you should be the one to fix it.

The homeowner will likely come to you with a snagging list if they have a number of defects they have picked up on. In this case, you could either agree to fix the snags or get a professional snagging inspector to review the property again and liaise with you and the homeowner.

What does the New Homes Quality Code say about resolving snagging issues?

If the homeowner doesn’t receive a reasonable response from you or they are not satisfied with the outcome of their complaint, they can take their dispute to the New Homes Ombudsman or Finance Ombudsman. A complaint can be referred within the first two years and after 56 calendar days of the initial complaint being made to you.

The New Homes Quality Code confirms that it’s a good idea for developers to recommend that home buyers arrange a pre-completion inspection check by an appropriately accredited professional before completion and put together a ‘pre-completion snagging list’. The code says that snagging issues should be dealt with by a dedicated aftercare team or after-sales team and be resolved promptly within 30 calendar days of being raised.

It is a requirement that developers have a complaints procedure in which they respond to snagging concerns in writing within 5 calendar days of receiving the complaint. Then, a “path to resolution letter” must be sent within 10 calendar days explaining how the problem will be resolved and investigated.

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