Snagging construction works
Snagging does not have an agreed meaning, and is not a contractual term. It is a slang expression widely used in the construction industry to define the process of inspection necessary to compile a list of minor defects or omissions in building works for the contractor to rectify.
 Most common use of the term
Generally snagging refers to a process that takes place a fortnight or so prior to practical completion when an area is considered complete by a contractor and is offered ready for inspection. A snagging list (occasionally referred to as a punch list) is prepared and issued by the appropriate certifying authority, typically this will be the architect, contract administrator or employer’s agent. The faults that are identified should be rectified prior to a certificate of practical completion being issued.
Inspection should not take place without a proper 'builder’s clean', the removal of any protective material and the operation of full, permanent lighting. On large projects the inspection process may need to be carried out in sections as areas are progressively completed and closed off, even if this does not entail contractual sectional completion or handover to the client.
Snagging in such circumstances might begin months before overall project completion. It may also mean that some areas are physically complete but without the building services having been tested or commissioned as they are not operational. This should be noted on the snagging sheet. The closed-off areas are then subject to a rigorous locked-access regime to prevent deterioration and will require final inspection just prior to handover to the client.
The contract drawings and specifications, British Standards, and Building Regulations set a standard for the works, however common sense and experience should also be used in exercising judgment. For instance, a hand-applied finish will never match machined products, and a scratch on the back of the CEO’s office door is more serious than a similar scratch in the interior of a plant room. Two sets of eyes are better than one and it takes roughly an hour per 100 sq m to thoroughly inspect an area while compiling a list.
It is important to ensure that meticulous dated records are kept and receipts of acknowledgement are filed. Defects can often become the subject of litigation long after completion and occupants can cause damage after handover. Sometimes photographic evidence can be a useful record, and software is now available to help identify and track defects.
 Other uses of the term
- The preparation by the contract administrator of a schedule of minor (de minimis) outstanding items that remain on certification of practical completion. It should be noted that generally there is no provision in the contract for this.
- A schedule of significant (non de minimis) items appended to the certificate of practical completion. Again there is generally no provision in the contract for this, but it can be agreed by the parties to the contract, if for example it is in the interests of the client to occupy the building even though significant outstanding items remain. There may also be circumstances, such as concern with business disruption, when a client settles for accepting a defect in return for discounting payment of the final account.
- A schedule of defects that have appeared during the defects liability period, issued by the contract administrator at the end of defects liability period. Such a schedule of defects is generally provided for by the contract.
- Inspection of sub-contractor works by the main contractor.
- Inspection by an independent surveyor acting on behalf of a purchaser.
- Releasing half of the retention (an amount retained from payments due to the contractor to ensure that they complete the works).
- Ending the contractor's liability for liquidated damages (damages that become payable to the client in the event that there is a breach of contract by the contractor - generally by failing to complete the works by the completion date).
- Signifying the beginning of the defects liability period.
It is important to note that the defects liability period, which follows certification of practical completion, is not a chance to correct problems apparent at practical completion, it is the period during which the contractor may be recalled to rectify defects which appear. If there are defects apparent before practical completion, then these should be rectified before a certificate of practical completion is issued.
See Practical completion for more information.
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