Buying an off plan property in Bulgaria involves a series of staged payments, while the property is being built, and the final payment becoming due once the property is complete. The agent or builder will then notify you when the property is complete and ready and ask to come to Bulgaria to inspect the property and then complete the sale at the Notary making the last payment on the same day which is where your problems can begin.
Buying a property is exciting and you arrive expecting to be able to move into your new dream home. The agent will normally request that you inspect on a one day and complete at the Notary the same or the next day which allows no time to get the builder to repair any defects. Emotionally you want to get moved, you may need to get rental income, you possibly have organised furniture delivery and installation of an alarm so often complete regardless of how many defects the property has or even if the pool isn’t finished, or the property isn’t quite finished.
Many times the developers take advantage of buyers’ ignorance of the process and their legal rights on standards, and take little responsibility for spotting any defects themselves plus the language barrier doesn’t help when the client is asked to sign off a snagging list in Bulgarian.
Top 10 Tips before during & after a home inspection
- Do not agree to inspect and complete over a two day period. Request at least 5 working days between inspection and completion to allow time for snagging defects to be repaired. By not completing you will be in stronger position to get defects repaired. A house inspection company can check the property without you needing to be present.
- Before you arrange the trip get the developer/agent to confirm in writing that the property & communal area are complete. If communal areas are not complete get the builder/developer to confirm in writing completion date for these areas. If you are buying a property for rental income the lack of a pool will affect the rental value
- Get the developer to confirm that water and electricity are connected and available on the day of inspection
- If you have bought via an agent insist that a representative from the agent, that speaks Bulgarian, is present at the inspection
- Negotiate that you retain a percentage of the final payment, typically 5% which is paid when the snagging defects are repaired
- Go well equipped, a plan of the property and list of what’s included according to your preliminary contract, prepare a snagging list room by room. Take a digital camera, good battery powered lights, spirit level, indelible marker and tape to mark the defects, binoculars to inspect the roof area.
- Don’t be afraid to shake things, door & window frames, toilets and taps. The property may be dirty and dust can hide all sorts of problems so take cleaning materials.
- Never sign a snagging list on the day with the developer, get them to send it to you and your solicitor.
- Find a key holder early in the sales cycle, somebody that can grant access to the builder for repair work access and security supervision. Bulgarian builders are not known to arrive on time or to complete work quickly.
- Don’t be afraid to refuse to complete on the property if you’re not happy, don’t be bullied by the developer to complete.
What is a Snag List?
A Snag List is the inspection and investigation of the construction and services of a newly built property in sufficient detail to allow the building surveyor to compile a list of shortcomings, defects and irregularities with the built property. This gives the client an opportunity to furnish the developer with a detailed list of snagging items, which should be attended to before the finalisation of Contracts. The purpose of a Snag List is to ensure that the newly built property is in compliance with all current Building Regulations and Codes of Practice and meets all Health & Safety issues. It provides the client with peace of mind in the knowledge that their new home has been finished to the highest possible standards.
What are the top ten snagging defects?
The top ten snagging defects that we see in new build properties are:
- Plasterwork patching and redecoration.
- Ceramic tiling and bathroom tiling grouting incomplete.
- Architraves and skirting boards require caulking.
- External brickwork requires missing weep vents and brick acid wash.
- Block work not fully pointed.
- Loft insulation incomplete and not laid correctly.
- Extractor fans venting into roof and ceiling voids.
- Pipes not lagged in roof void areas.
- Broken roof tiles.
- Defective or scratched glazing.