When we asked to arrange an appointment for New Build Inspections to
carry out a snagging inspection, there was another confusion on site. At first the appointment was made, then it was not going to be allowed, then it was uncertain whether it would be allowed or not.
Finally we spoke to the site manager Mark Thompson, who stated that the Laing policy was not to allow a snagging inspection or an inspection by any other professional or contractor to be carried out prior to completion. From our experience with the sales people, it does not seem to be a very clear or well known policy! Certainly, this was the first we heard about it.
In other words, we are allowed to rely only on our own (lack of) knowledge and experience to satisfy ourselves that a satisfactory job has been done. Moreover, Mark said that he would tell us how to inspect the property. Sounds helpful, but there is an obvious conflict of interest in the developer advising you that the property is “an excellent property” and telling you how to look at it. We were told that because New Build Inspections weren’t the purchasers, whatever they had to say didn’t matter.
What?? You mean, what any expert is saying does not matter because they are not the purchaser? Why in the world do we get a surveyor in to have a look at a building before we purchase it? Sure, it looks fine to me, so whether the surveyor is of the opinion that the building is about to collapse does not matter! Is that what they are trying to say??!!
His rationale was that you pay an “extortionate” amount in fees for a
snagging report, and the inspector has to find as many faults as he can and “tear the place apart” in order to justify the fees you have paid. I really wonder that this is actually the service you want from a snagging inspection. Wouldn’t you be much happier if the report could just say, here is a list of minor defects, some we think a developer will remedy, others not, and we didn’t find any serious problems. At least there would be two sides to the story, instead of just the developer’s side.
More importantly, according to Mark, Laing’s (and any other developer for that matter) main concern is if a purchaser refused to complete on the basis of a list of minor defects, especially if it were a pretext for not completing to their timetable. Perhaps it’s worth remembering that they are holding a substantial deposit paid at exchange, and you may forfeit that deposit by refusing to complete.
So what happens if you go ahead and complete, and then you have the snagging done? It doesn’t take long to guess that the developer may argue that you had caused some defects since moving in. In any case, how urgent is it going to be to rectify defects now that the legal process is over? A developer may simply refuse to entertain a post-completion snagging report. Even where they are more receptive, when will defects be remedied? You begin to understand why there are snagging report companies in the first place!
All the time, Mark is trying to reassure us that the flat is “excellent” and that we’ll see at the home demo. At the same time he reminds us that he “doesn’t do perfect”, and that he will tell us if we are being unreasonable when we point out a defect. His idea of reasonable, and he says that this is in accordance with NHBC as well, is whether defects can be seen from the middle of the room or 2 metres. My question is, why should there be two different standards of snagging – one of the uninformed buyer, and another for the professional snagger? Are developers trying to pull the wool over our eyes? If it is NHBC standard, then professional snaggers should be snagging to that standard too, no?
I don’t care if there’s a small scratch on the surface of the skirting board. I’m more concerned with what else we may have missed that a professional snagger picks up on. Ill-fitting sinks, curved walls, eneven/ sloping doors. That sort of thing. But no, we’re not allowed to have any professional snagger come in on our behalf before completion. Laing has a policy of not allowing professional snagging. If they are as excellent as they say they are, what’s there to be scared of? They say they are reasonable, well, so am I!