Snagging: The Complete Self Builder’s Guide & Checklist

Snagging is the important process of checking your finished self build, renovation or extension works have been completed up to scratch – but what should you look out for? Take a look at our guide to snagging to ensure your project meets your expectations
Chris Bates, Editor of Build It magazine
by Chris Batesmith
10th June 2023

Snagging is an extremely important aspect of a self build project – ensuring you’re getting what you’ve paid for, and everything meets your expectations. Snagging is the process of identifying features of a building project that although have been completed, have small faults that need to be rectified before moving in.

These can be common, honest mistakes that have somehow slipped through the net when completing a project. There are things you can do to make the final steps to completion easier for both you and your builder, though. Keeping a comprehensive list of works that you can cross-reference and check off later down the line can be an excellent idea.

So, if you’re part-way through your self build project, or simply drawing up plans, collating a snagging checklist and knowing what it’ll involve will prove beneficial. Read our complete guide to ensure you’re prepared.

Moving In: When Do I Begin the Snagging Process?

Formal completion basically equates to receiving sign-off from your local authority that your project accords with the planning consent, and that the house is safe and meets the minimum standards laid out in the Building Regulations.

Typically, your main contractor, surveyor, project manager or package house supplier will sign off the property and apply to the local authority for a completion certificate. If you’ve managed the scheme yourself, then the responsibility for arranging this will rest with you.

The completion certificate is an extremely significant document you’ll be issued with over the course of your scheme. This is the official written record showing that the house has been built and finished to a satisfactory standard, and will be important when it comes to the snagging process. So be sure to lodge a copy with your solicitor. It’s also the trigger that allows you to apply to HMRC for a VAT reclaim on any eligible materials you’ve used.

Freddie and Katie Pack saved up to build this contemporary and efficient house on their family’s Romney Marsh farm after living in a small cabin a few fields away. The exterior cladding had to be laid perfectly to ensure the build was able retain its slick look. Click here to read about their journey from planning to completion

Your new home will now become liable for council tax, so expect a band assessment to come through from the local authority within a few months. When your first bill hits the floor, it will be backdated to the completion certificate. So it could amount to a significant sum.

It is possible to move in before the house is 100% finished, provided it meets certain minimum criteria. To do this, you’ll usually need to arrange an inspection with building control with a view to obtaining a habitation or temporary occupancy certificate.

You’ll collect a number of other important documents over the course of your project, all of which should be filed for safekeeping. These will include various benchmark certificates showing that domestic heating appliances meet the required standards and final safety certificates from the Part P registered trades (eg for electrics).

Unless one of your professional team is securing it as part of their responsibilities, you’ll also need to commission an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This details how efficient the house is (this is required whenever a property is built, sold or rented).

Snagging: What Does It Involve?

When you’re building a bespoke home, there will always be small defects that need sorting out along the way. This might include things such as unfinished edges, sticking windows, poorly hung doors and paint splashes.

Most of these issues will be picked up as you go along. There will, however, always be some minor elements that are only identified as the project reaches its conclusion. Snagging is the process of getting your builder to rectify these outstanding glitches at the end of the project. Fundamentally, you’ll need to produce a comprehensive list of all the things that need sorting out before you settle the final bill.

Looking for windows and doors suppliers? Browse Build It’s Company Directory of established experts

Some package home companies will offer the internal fit out, which can mean keeping track of the works will be easier. Kevin Crotty chose a Dan-Wood Turnkey package for his self build project. The Dan-Wood team finished the interiors to an extremely high standard, which Kevin was impressed with. See the completed project here

Most self-builders will hold back around 2.5%-5% of the agreed contract price to cover snags. This is an accepted part of the industry, but the retention needs to be pre-written into your contract with the builder – as it is with the small works agreements available from the likes of the Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT).

If, for whatever reason, they don’t finish the work to your satisfaction, you’ll have a lump sum in the bank that you can use to pay someone else to remedy the situation – or you could net a little windfall by sorting it out yourself.

Bear in mind that if you’ve project managed the build yourself and hired individual trades, you’ll need to negotiate the snagging process with each of them. Exactly when that happens – and who is responsible for certain faults – can be up for debate. This can be particularly difficult if something has suffered minor damage after installation.

Learn More: 10 Top Tips for Project Managing Your Self Build or Renovation

QUICK GUIDE: Snagging checklist

You’ll probably have a good handle on the main niggles from having regularly visited the site. The trick is to bring these into a room-by-room checklist. Your architect or designer may be willing to help, or you can find a number of free snagging templates by searching online. Here are a few key areas to get you started:


Claddings & finishes – neat, clean and properly aligned

Gutters – secure, with no gaps between the fascia and the gutter

Gulleys & drains – surface water flows correctly (test with a bucket of water)

Outdoor lights – sealed and working

Turf – evenly laid, no gaps

Patios/decking – stable and level (with slight fall)

Fencing & gates – correctly fixed and functional

Garage doors – functional and secure


Walls & ceilings – evenly painted, free from blemishes and neatly finished at covings

Doors & windows – open, close and lock properly

Mouldings – skirtings, architraves etc well-fitted with no gaps

Floor coverings – properly installed

Staircases – no gaps or creaks, balusters secure

Loft – access hatch operates well

Take meter readings


Power sockets – properly seated and working

Light switches & fittings – operating, with correct polarity

Heating system – functional, all controls and emitters working

Fireplaces/stoves – well-fitted and flues performing properly


Cooker, hood & appliances – working and undamaged during fitting

Sinks & taps – operating with no leaks

Cupboards & drawers – well-fitted, open and close smoothly

Worktops – level, unblemished and with neat joints


Sanitaryware – no chips, well-fitted, secure and silicone sealed

Toilets, showers, basins & taps – functioning with no leaks

Bath panels & enclosures – correctly fitted and properly aligned

Tiling – level, evenly spaced and properly grouted

Extractor fans – working

Checking the Work & Your Snagging List

Your snagging inspection should take place at an agreed date after the completion certificate has been issued. At this point, you know the house already meets the Building Regulations, so there shouldn’t be any major issues to address.

The snagging process usually takes the form of a walkaround of the house with your contractor – with both parties noting defects as they go. It will typically take a couple of hours to snag a three-bedroom house. If possible, have your architect or designer in tow as they may be able to help negotiate any contentious points.

Read More: Do I Need an Architect For My House Extension?

After finding the perfect plot in the Suffolk countryside, Steve and Suzanne Richardson enlisted Cocoon Architects to bring their ideas for a low-energy home to life. The efficient, timber frame home was designed to be low energy, which meant airtightness had to be optimum, click here to read about their journey

Do remember that this is your chance to have genuine faults corrected – not a means to get the builder to do more work for free, that’s not what snagging is about. If they’ve followed the drawings for elements such as light switch positions, door hanging etc and you change your mind, you’ll have to pay a fair rate for the job.

One of the issues around snagging can be subjectivity. What might be permissible in the eyes of your builder might not match up to your own ideal. For instance, industry standards aren’t exactly tight when it comes to details like acceptable thresholds for uneven plaster. The best way to overcome this kind of problem is to ensure your quality expectations are mapped out and agreed in the original contract.

Latent Defects & Warranties

Your new home is likely to be the biggest investment (both in terms of time and money) you ever make, so it makes sense to protect it.

The conventional route to guarding against hidden defects is to take out a structural warranty. Providers include BuildStore (with its BuildCare product), Protek, Selfbuild Insurance and Self-Build Zone. You need to arrange this before construction begins, as the provider will inspect the scheme at regular intervals (much like building control). It will issue corresponding certificates for each phase, as well as a final document on completion.

Most insurance-backed structural warranties last for 10 years. They will pay out to put right any damage caused by defects in the structure that become apparent over time – such as cracked walls and failed drainage – whether as a result of poor design, workmanship or components.

Typical warranty costs range from £1,500-£5,000, usually payable in a single premium. While that may seem like a big chunk of your budget, it will be essential should you decide to sell within that period. Most mortgage companies require this as evidence of professional competence before they’ll lend on the property – even if it has a normal completion certificate.

There is a slightly cheaper alternative available, in the form of an architect’s certificate, which most lenders accept. This will cost around £1,000 and is valid for six years. It’s important to be clear, however, that an architect’s certificate is not an insurance-backed warranty. If you do experience major problems, your only recourse will be to make a legal claim against the architect’s professional indemnity insurance.

Self-builders and renovators need specialist products when it comes to professional services such as finance, mortgages, VAT and insurance. Take a look at Build It’s Company Directory of financial services

Featured image: Freddie and Katie Pack’s open-plan kitchen-diner was completed to an extremely high standard, see the home here

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