This week we talk to construction professional Siobhon Niles about the final stage of a project; The ‘Test It’ stage where you, your architect or your project manager will snag the work done by your contractor and sub contractors.
Siobhon has worked on building sites for over a decade but doesn’t hide the honest truth that if you don’t give the test it and snagging stage sufficient time, you are at a loss.
She talked about daylight being the most critical light there is. So you have to plan this in, if you need to wait until Saturday until you have the time to snag during the day, then make sure you plan this in.
Siobhon talks about acclimatisation, lots and lots of materials (we talked about vinyl flooring) needs time to settle in the environment it is going to be used. If it is installed straight away there can be folds or creases in the installed product which you will identify during the snagging stage – so you can be creating a defect.
As mentioned by our expert Quantity Surveyor in the buy it stage podcast here, the programme is everything, so snagging is built in as the programme goes along and any acclimatisation is planned in too. So snagging is not done ONLY right at the end, it’s part of the build process.
‘The key is continuous snagging throughout the build, to each stage in the programme.’
Siobhon talks about how to use samples – having a physical example of what you are buying so you can test this against the finished installed product. This helps take the emotion out of a snagging discussion as you can hold the sample up to the element which has been installed and it either matches or it doesn’t!
Siobhon also talks about the importance of having in place a performance specification (which would be covered in the design it stage where the specification is created) as you might think at the test it stage that an electrical or mechanical item isn’t right- you can go back to the spec to confirm what’s right and wrong.
Communication with the builder / contractor is best in a list – with a photo. Siobhon likes spreadsheets as it keeps all the comments in one place, a photo can be associated with the comment and (most importantly) the builder won’t get overwhelmed by 50 different messages over the course of multiple days. Its far better to collate all comments and send them over for each area or product being snagged and then allow the time for those comments to be digested and responded to. That time to capture items, send them and the time to respond should all be planned in the programme.
Siobhon recommends taking a steer from your contractor on any specific software or apps for snagging. As there is a learning curve of how to use the software and your contractors time is best used on doing what they do best, your extension or refurb. If you love a piece of particular software please ensure you include this requirement in your specification and design pack when you tender. You can then find a contractor who will accept this from the start.
Finally Siobhon recognises how emotional this stage is, when you are tired and just want to move back in or simply get the builder out. She recommends to take your time, not to rush and to remember that your contractor wants to do a good job and for you to be an ambassador for them.
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