Completing a snag list when buying a newly built home directly from a property developer

Feb 5, 2021 | Home Buyers


Completing a snag list when buying a newly built home directly from a property developer! ( Updated 31 Jan 2023)

Completing a snag list
After reading this article you will know:

  1. What a snag list is
  2. Why you should complete a snag list when moving into a newly built property.
  3. Examples of ‘snags’
  4. How to look out for the terms and conditions around the snag list in the sales agreement
  5. Why it may be in your best interest to get a professional home inspection company to complete the snag list on your behalf.


Buying a newly built home directly from a developer is hugely exciting because you are the first person to live in the property. However, many homebuyers don’t know that you should complete a snag list when they move into a newly built property. 

As exciting as a brand-new house may be, mistakes may have slipped in during the construction period, and the property may not always be one hundred percent perfect when you take occupation. It is for this reason that you, as the new homeowner, should present the developer with a snag list shortly after you have taken occupation. 


What is a snag list?

  • Get a comprehensive list of tasks and faults to be completed by the developer with a Snag List before accepting a new home. This is normally a list of items that you may discover, is faulty, after you move into the property. 


  • Discover faulty fixtures such as a non-flushing toilet, non-working light switch, scratched kitchen counter, loose door hinge, cracked tile, or uneven ceiling.


  • The list goes on, and sometimes a snag list can be several pages long. Only once the developer has fixed the ‘snags’ on the snag list, and you are happy, may they now hand over the property to you completely. 


  • Many people do not complete the snag list after they move in, or they don’t even know that they should complete a snag list. Remember, developers will not necessarily remind you to complete the snag list. The onus is on you, the new homeowner, to complete it. 


Look out for the terms and conditions around the snag list in the sales agreement.

Normally people are so excited to buy a property, they trust blindly that everything is in order. The worst mistake that you can make is not to read the sales agreement. Even if you do read the sales agreement, make sure you understand the clauses. If not, ask the real estate agent who sold you the property to talk you through the different clauses, or get an independent attorney to go through the terms and conditions with you. 

In the case of a newly built property, the sales agreement would have a clause that will stipulate the terms and conditions under which you as the new owner, has to complete the snag list. It is important that you read and understand these particular terms and conditions, carefully. If you don’t act within the terms and conditions of the snag list, you may forfeit the opportunity to have the snags fixed. 

Here is a scenario to consider.

New homeowners must submit a snag list within 3 months, as per the sales agreement terms with the developer. You might not have taken note of this condition in the agreement, and you may submit your snag list four months after you have taken occupation. By now your submission for a snag list window may have lapsed, and the contractor is no longer contractually required to fix the items on your snag list. Your brand-new house’s repairs might cost you thousands of Rands if you have to do it yourself.

Here is another scenario.

You might be proactive in completing your snag list for the developer and you may hand it in within the snag list window period. The contractor or developer completes snags, and hands over property as done after the agreement. Discover cracks and sagging ceiling two years later, despite the contractor’s fix. Get ready for a bigger problem now. Since you have signed off on the snag list, you now don’t have a leg to stand on and will unfortunately have to cover the cost of poor workmanship yourself. 


Getting the professionals in to complete the snag list on your behalf 

Tips on getting a professional to complete a snag list!

  • Consider hiring professionals for a snag list, as they are familiar with what to look for and can prepare it more effectively than inexperienced homeowners. Professionals who examine homes before purchase are known as home inspectors, with many inspection companies across South Africa. There will be a small fee to pay. A home inspection firm quotes based on the property size for snagging. This is normally a small price to pay for peace of mind. 


  • The Home Inspector comes in to assess, and list everything that needs fixing. They will also look at places that you may not have looked at, like inside the roof. They will also be in a better position to make a diagnosis of a crack.Inspect all cracks before buying a house. Small cracks may be structural defects discovered too late.


  • The home inspector will provide you with a detailed snag report which you can hand to your contractor or developer. Developers are more likely to avoid shortcuts in fixing snag list items when completed by professionals.


  • The Home Inspector checks post-fixes for proper completion with a de-snag inspection


  • A professional inspector’s snag report serves as legal proof in court if needed in disputes between you and the developer.


Last updated: 31 January 2023

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