The New Homes Quality Board has published best practice guidance for developers on dealing with snagging.

The guidance document - the first in a series of publications from the NHQB on industry talking points – combines the results of customer research with recommendations for housebuilders dealing with snagging issues. This article sets out the report's key findings.

The market research

With the aim of better understanding what snagging means to customers, the NHQB undertook customer research in the form of a survey of 320 UK homebuyers and two focus groups.

Some of the results of the market research are unsurprising – for example, almost three times as many customers said they were concerned about snagging (52%) than not concerned (18%).

Perhaps the most interesting outcome from the market research is a set of questions which give some insight into how customers think about snagging on a general and specific level.

The good news for developers is that the vast majority of customers (73%) said that, in general, they expected small issues and faults to be found during the snagging process.

The bad news for developers is that when customers were asked whether they expected to find particular types of common snag in their new build home, the result was almost the reverse. For example, only 28% of customers expected cracking in the paint, with 69% of respondents saying they would not expect to find this. Similar results were seen across all of the types of snags listed in the report.

These results are somewhat contradictory, but the picture is likely to be familiar to developers – while customers understand that there will be snags with their new build home, that does not mean that they will find any particular snag to be acceptable.

The recommendations

Having considered the results of the market research, the report makes five recommendations for developers when dealing with snagging:

  1. Make sure that homes have been fully quality checked by somebody not directly involved in the construction. The NHQB recommends that the person carrying out the inspection uses its template inspection checklist – the same one that must be used if the customer wants to carry out a pre-completion inspection.
  2. Explain to customers how the snagging process works from early on in the sales journey. The report found that many customers know little or nothing about snagging. The NHQB suggests that developers take the opportunity at the outset to clarify the meaning of snags and how they will be fixed.
  3. Provide easy ways for customers to report problems. This may be by phone, email, during face-to-face visits, an app or some other way. The important thing is that method for reporting a snag is straightforward and customers understand what it is.
  4. Resolve snags within 30 days – this is the timescale set out in the New Homes Quality Code. If this will not be possible then customers should be informed in advance.
  5. If a solution cannot be agreed, developers can suggest that customers contact the New Homes Ombudsman Service. We have already covered the first two case studies from the new Ombudsman on reservations and restrictive covenants.

For more guidance on dealing with snagging or any other aspect of the New Homes Quality Code, developers can get in touch with our Real Estate Litigation team or their usual contact in the Brodies Living team.