Snagging lists – a fairly strange term to those not familiar with it.
But it’s a crucial process in the construction process. It allows owners and contractors to find any imperfections in the construction and fix them before completing the project.
This mini-guide covers almost everything you need to know about snag lists (or punch lists if you’re based in the US).
Snagging is a process carried out before the practical completion of a project, i.e. when the project is ready for inspection. In the most basic terms, a snag is a minor flaw that remains after the contractor has finished a project. They must remedy them before handing over the project.
The difference between a punch list and a snag list is that punch list is a term used outside of the United Kingdom.
The term snagging list is standard in the United Kingdom and Ireland (as well as Australia and New Zealand) and is always accepted.
The confusion between the two terms appears to arise most often when foreign - such as American contractors or construction companies - are used and thus use the terminology they are attuned to.
A punch list is a sort of to-do list that details to a contractor what needs to be done to the house for it to meet the contractor or buyer's expectations. It gets its name from the old-fashioned method of punching holes in a list.
A snag list is a list created during a snagging survey. When a contractor's role in a project is complete, they must remedy any ‘snags’ before handover to the contractor, developer or house owners.
If you're building your snag list, use this list to ensure you cover all the nooks and crannies. This list is divided into categories to make your inspection easier.
Doors and doorframes
Snagging can't be allotted to just one person. It would be impossible for one individual to ensure all items on the snag list are crossed or "punched" off.
The snagging process involves several key stakeholders, including owners, general contractors, subcontractors, and architects.
The owner's primary responsibility is to be present at the end of the project and check the work. As the project draws to a close, the owner should visit the job site to ensure everything meets their expectations.
This is an excellent time for them to inspect the work, ask questions, and share any final instructions or requests. These items are added to the snag list.
The contractor plays several roles in the snag list process. Most importantly, they act as a liaison between the owner, subcontractors, and architect. Their role includes:
Subcontractors will receive a list of tasks from the main contractor and should ideally complete each task within the time frame specified. Subcontractors should also be prepared to answer any questions about these line items.
There may also be instances where the subcontractor does not complete a task exactly as specified on the snag list.
This could be because the request was not viable, and they used their expertise and best judgement to complete the task efficiently. In such cases, the subcontractor should be ready to explain how and why.
The architect must confirm that what was designed was executed during the final construction review.
Architects are also responsible for approving any changes in construction design that were required before the final walkthrough, which must be accounted for during the final evaluation.
Snagging list is prepared mainly by the appropriate certifying authority architect or contract administrator during inspection for the practical completion of a building project.
Every line item mentioned in the snag list must be addressed before issuing a certificate of practical completion.
All items on the snagging lists must be meticulously documented, and pertinent information must be communicated to the parties involved.
As evidence, the communication must be documented in writing, along with a photograph of the issues.
Using software here can be helpful as it makes the entire process much smoother and more streamlined.
More often than not, this is the format of a snag list:
A contractor must prepare their snagging list as the project progresses to address issues upfront and not keep them for the last minute. The status of each snag item must be either outstanding or completed.
You'd assume that a new build will be in pristine condition and devoid of snags. However, that's not always the case.
The home builder must inspect and repair any cosmetic flaws before closing on the sale. However, it is unlikely that they will notice everything.
Minor defects or "snags" caused by poor workmanship or equipment are common in newly constructed properties.
Here are the ten most common snags reported from an analysis of snagging surveys of homeowners and construction companies:
A snag list is the foundation of any successful construction project. Short projects may be able to manage all the snag work on an Excel sheet or paper. But, large projects may have lengthy snag lists with items that can get lost on paper or in a spreadsheet.
There are methods to make the snag list process easier for everyone, including yourself.
A good practice is to take notes as you work. Although it may be tempting to wait until the project is complete to create a snag list, doing so will allow your team to work more efficiently.
By creating a snag list from the beginning, you establish the process and standards for everyone involved in the project. "Snag-as-you-go" is a practice of documenting issues and flaws as they arise.
It demands a little more effort to get started and regular updates on work tasks and progress, but it helps you deliver a close-to-perfect final project.
To improve efficiency, assign each task to the appropriate person. Often, items may be added to a snag list in a rush. And while everyone understands that it must be completed at the soonest, no one knows who is in charge of the item.
Every task on a snag list must be assigned to a specific person, no matter how big or small. If the job requires more than one person, assign distinct roles.
For example, if there are three subcontractors, who among them must take ownership of the assignment?
It is critical always to be explicit about roles and responsibilities because you can never assume everyone is on the same page.
Be explicit with your demands. Assigning the right tasks to the right people is only half the job. The second half is to ascertain they're clear on what is expected of them once those tasks are assigned.
The more comprehensive and detailed a snag list, the easier its execution. For example, have you specified the due date of all the tasks? Have you highlighted which tasks are a priority?
This is where having a ready-made snag list template to fill out comes in handy.
You can be confident you're being thorough and have covered everything. However, the more information you provide, your project will likely succeed.
Does your team know which bedroom you're referring to when you say "rear bedroom"? Can everyone identify the chips or stains on the snag list?
You may have described the issue to the best of your ability, but that doesn't guarantee that it'll immediately make sense to the listener.
There's a good chance the subcontractor may fail to recognise the seriousness of the problem.
Photographs here can help reduce confusion and explicitly express a problem's what, how, where, and why of a problem.
Furthermore, photos provide your team with proof of the existing issues and the steps taken to resolve them. This will improve overall efficiency and explain why specific actions were taken.
You can improve the snagging process by using software. Even though pen, paper, and spreadsheets can accomplish the task, you may end up with more work and stress on your plate.
With large projects, it can get challenging to keep track of all the moving parts in a snag list with pen and paper, and it isn't easy to provide essential project stakeholders with real-time updates.
Even a spreadsheet is no match for the current software alternatives. Thanks to cloud-based building snag list software, everyone is always kept informed and accountable.
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