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Safeguard your home improvement project: create a snagging list


If you employ a tradesman to carry out work on your property, then you should check for defects and document them in a list around two weeks before the work is due to be completed. This is when the tradesman serves notice and it will give him/her time to correct any flaws before the job is complete. Most importantly, this will happen before you part with the full sum of money.

Address the list early

It’s important to raise your intention to create a snagging list early on in your negotiations with your tradesman. Some local builders may add a walk-away clause to a contract, particularly if the work is part of a new property purchase. This clause will allow your tradesman to walk away without addressing the snagging list, so it’s important to be clear about the terms of your agreement upfront. Property expert Phil Spencer believes that it’s worth 'agreeing a 5 per cent holdback which is paid when the snagging list has been completed and the project signed off'.

Tour your property

Walking around your home with a friend will allow you to inspect every inch of the space, including those easy-to-miss areas hidden behind doors. With two pairs of eyes, you are less likely to overlook important issues that could affect how comfortable you feel in your home or its future saleability. You should spend a minimum of three hours inspecting an average three bedroom home and one to two days for a larger property.

Each room should be examined in turn as you follow a checklist of everything that needs to be looked at. Consider each operation and item separately. For instance check that the electrics for your lights are fully functional and that the light fixtures are lined up correctly.

Both operations and visual appearance will need checking as stray paint over a worktop or on a light switch can ruin a look. Likewise, operation faults can be frustrating and sometimes dangerous.

Make a copy of your list 

Once you have created your snagging list, you should make two or three copies of it. Give one to your builder and send the other to their head office by recorded delivery if he/she is working as part of a larger company, and keep one for your own records.

Any verbal agreements such as the timescale of proposed modifications should always be confirmed in writing. This way, you will have proof of an agreement which binds the tradesman to complete your work, in the case of a future dispute.

To find a tradesman who will meet your standards, post your job here.