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It appears we have an infestation of nasty little critters, know to those in the industry as ‘SNAGS’. Unpleasant, damaging and bad for business, snags eat into company profits with ferocity , showing no mercy and unsettling your customer!

Amusing analogies aside, there’s nothing funny about this. There really does appear to be an epidemic – action is needed now to prevent a pandemic!

There are stories daily of new-home developers being targeted by their customer base for the poor quality of product at the point of occupation. Much of this could be just poor attention to detail while some of it is beyond alarming. Snags are a costly menace and the root cause of misery for thousands of new-home buyers; its not a great commercial for the industry. Snags will always have to be put right, its just that sooner is always less expensive than later. Reputational damage, especially for a national builder can create far reaching destruction for the brand, lowering investor loyalty and taking with it years of accumulated good will.

So what’s driving such a negative trend? In all likelihood the origins were established during the down-turn when a large swathe of skilled labour left the industry. At the time this wasn’t much of a problem because there was relatively little building work around. However as output has increased and the sector is tackling the ever growing housing shortfall, we find ourselves in the grip of an industry-wide skills shortage which shows no signs of improving anytime soon. When the pressure is on to drive through completions, focus on the detail falters and this is why today, in many instances, we are beset with quality issues at the end of the build [snags].

After Build’s own data shows that 29% of all snag issues are Painting and Decorating related, with Carpentry and Joinery in second place at 13%. The Federation of Master Builders quarterly ‘State of Trade Survey’ (Q4/2016) reveals Carpentry and Joinery to be the category that 57% of respondents said were the most difficult to secure (after Bricklayers who are still the most difficult).

Aside from the difficulties of finding and retaining trades, After Build’s data shows that on average, the industry is taking between 101-200 days (38.1%) to return and rectify snags. So what’s the answer? Well there is no ‘silver bullet’ – sadly the long term solution is more skilled resource, however the nation’s internal ability to address this via apprenticeship isn’t encouraging. When compared with other sectors (Business Admin and Law, Retail and Commercial Enterprise, Health and Public Services, Engineering and Manufacturing) Construction is the only category trending sharply down … and has been in decline since 2008/09.

However, we are where we are and we can do better with what we’ve got. We’ve identified that resource alone isn’t responsible for everything … management of resource must be held accountable for a great deal of the difficulties.

When faced with fairly sizeable lists of complaints from new-home owners, the communication and organisation between site, occupants and sub-contracted trades is less than perfect, more often than not, making a bad situation very much worse.

After Build take this away and ‘own’ it. Our systems, people and process are proven and efficient. We begin by clarifying the status of snags by occupant, the details of which are captured in our CRM system for the purposes of clean and accurate reporting later. Interestingly, in almost every case where we have taken on snag management there has been a sizeable disconnect between what the occupant believes to be outstanding, what the developer thinks needs doing and the contractor’s perception of work to complete. A single central, maintained database is the only way forward.

We work closely with your sub-contractors, mindful that they are still under pressure and that efficiency of how we apply their time is paramount. To this end we build schedules of work by site phase and trade category, working with the occupant to make the most of everyone’s time. Reporting is in real time and available to developer and contractor via a secure web based Portal.

Ultimately, managing your way through snags is the only commercially viable way to proceed and to add a unique layer of value, we handle this on a known fixed-price, so …. if the little critters are already taking bites out of your profits, let us show you what we can do to eradicate them for good.

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