When buying property you might think a new build would be a safer bet than splashing out on an older house that might require a lot of TLC.
But an increase in shoddy workmanship could mean you’d pay a hefty price for that assumption, with one recent survey revealing that 51% of all new build homes come with major faults.
And it’s this which has led to the rise of a multi-million pound industry called ‘snagging’, in which inspectors survey new properties for problems and help purchasers get them fixed before their warranty runs out – thereby ensuring it’s the developer who covers the cost.
Read more: ‘I need to find £50,000 after builder ruined my house and split my family’
Indeed, so popular has this become that one Welsh firm has unexpectedly gone viral on TikTok – a video-sharing app more often associated with famous pop stars and glamorous Hollywood celebs.
One of their clips about the perils of incorrect wall cavity drainage is nearly pushing a staggering four million views.
The company is the Swansea -based New Home Quality Control, which was founded by John Cooper and Lee Challenger in 2018, both of whom are using decades of extensive experience in the building trade to shine a spotlight on the cowboys.
“I was working on a site in Pembroke and one house had been left with a roof truss sticking right out of the brickwork,” said John, 38, a carpenter by trade from Carmarthen.
“The site manager told me to cover it up with fascia board, and because I needed the job security – mortgage and kids to pay for etc – I went ahead and did it.
“But I’m a perfectionist and that incident played on my mind so much that I couldn’t sleep. So I ended up quitting and going round to the address to tell owner exactly what had been done.
“I also pointed out a number of other things which were wrong and recommended she contact the National House Building Council.”
Enlisting the help of his supervisor Lee, the pair set out on their own and in the last few years have seen their snagging business take off.
“Everywhere you look you can spot it, especially with certain developers – mistakes, omissions, short cuts being taken and covered up.
“It’s a combination of the tradesmen not having the knowledge and the increasingly high demand to hit targets.
“It’s all about the turnaround – get the houses built, get the people in and get out of there. Quality taking second place to making money.”
John added that his six-man team, complete with cutting edge tech such as thermal imaging cameras, normally pick up between 160-200 faults on an average three bed property.
“People are shocked, as you’d expect.
“And those things range from minor quibbles like ill-fitting doors to major stuff like missing fire cavity barriers, which are essential in stopping a blaze spreading through your property and into your neighbour’s.”
He explained that the best time to have a snagging survey done is between the building work being finished and the arrival of the buyer’s legal completion date.
“That way the developer has time to fix any problems before you move in.
“Because I guarantee that warranty period will have long expired by the time most things start becoming apparent, like the mould that’ll result from problems with moisture in an unvented brickwork cavity.”
But, with a standard snagging report on a typical four-bed property starting from about £450, John recognised that not everyone will be able to afford one – especially after potentially forking out hundreds of thousands on a house.
“That’s why we put a free downloadable snag sheet on the website,” he said. “It means you can pretty much snag your own property if you want.
“And the videos going viral just go to show how much interest there is in this sort of stuff.
“Before we started posting on TikTok we were slowly building the business, doing around four or five inspections a week.
“But now we’re fully booked until the end of the year and have even had to take on extra staff.”
However, despite admitting that some of the workmanship he’s uncovered has been “horrific,” certain things have been improving.
“In the last 18 months there’s been a much better response to our reports from developers, particularly when it comes to them acting on our recommendations, which is encouraging,” said John, who’s so dedicated he’s even snagged his own property.
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So how does it feel being the AC-12 of the building game, rooting out the rogue traders and making sure everyone complies with the rules.
“AC-12?” he laughed. “Is that Line of Duty?.
“The missus was always on at me to watch that, but by the time it came on I was usually so knackered from work I’d be fast asleep on the sofa.”
For more info, visit www.newhomequalitycontrol.co.uk.