The building industry remains steady, with an ever increasing demand for
properties built off-plan. These properties remain an attractive option for
many people, especially first-time homeowners. Most of the properties
progressively appreciate, buyers save on transfer fees, are often allowed to
choose their own finishes and they are afforded the protection of a secure

But, who protects the buyer from unsightly finishes, visible defects and
homes not built according to the original plan?

Today's market demands tighter deadlines which involves contractors employed
"on price". This has produced a trend to cut corners and therefore lower the
standards of workmanship. Some new developments are also built by
sub-standard tradesmen who have very little supervision or quality control.
All of this can amount to a homeowner taking occupation of a dwelling that
is riddled with defects and well below the accepted standard.

"Buyers need to understand the importance of snagging their new home," says
Eric Bell, CEO of Inspect-A-Home, a professional inspection company often
called in to carry out professional snags.

Snagging is where the property is checked thoroughly for defects and poor
finishes. This can be anything from poor paintwork to badly hung doors,
broken window-catches and faulty sockets.

"Our inspectors have found floor tiles with no expansion joints, geysers not
installed according to regulations, roof trusses not braced securely and a
host of other defects."

"Buyers mistakenly believe that they are covered when buying a new build
from a reputable developer. What they don't realise is that the developer
often sub-contracts to building contractors, who are under pressure to
complete the units within a certain timeframe. This results in short cuts
being taken and best building practices not always being followed."

"We often list between 100 - 200 snags per dwelling and have found some new
homes with far more than that."

Bell recommends a snag list is completed prior to occupation. This ensures
that no defects or poor finishes are hidden by furniture or appliances. He
says that it is best to go through the property a few times before
completing the snag list as often a second visit will reveal further snags.

Once completed, the snag list should be handed over to either the site
supervisor or the site agent so that the items listed can be attended to.
This can create its own share of headaches as the builder often has moved on
to the next phase of housing or to a completely new development.

"Developers put pressure on buyers to pay in full and then only complete a
snag list after they have taken occupation. Obviously this serves only in
the developer's best interest."

"Buyers should consider inserting a 'retention clause' in their contract,"
mentions Bell. "This is where a sum of money is held back until all the
snags in a property are put right. They should speak to their attorneys
about including this when they sign the initial contract. It is a way of
holding the developer accountable, ensuring their snags are dealt with and
that they receive the quality home they were expecting."
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