Before a completed building is officially handed over to the client, the work performed by the various tradespeople on site must be inspected and approved. Despite the very festive character of this phase, its importance to both the contractor and the client should not be underestimated. The clientís primary interest is possibly payment. Once the work is accepted, the contractor is entitled to invoice the client; moreover, he is released from the risks and responsibilities on site.

The client, on the other hand, who is looking forward to using the completed building, must make sure that he is actually getting what he is paying for. It is the architectís job to support the client and point out things that are not up to scratch. The architect puts together a snag list of items that must be remedied. The defects liability period ensures that the builder will also correct faults during a specified period following the completion. Cracks in walls, for example, might not become visible until after the building has finished drying out.

Listen to the following conversation between Tim and the new homeowners Helen and George.

Tim: So, George, Helen, whatís your first impression.

Helen: It looks super. Itís amazing what those last touches do. Itís changed so much since last week.

George: Yes, when I last saw it, I thought we wouldnít be moving in before Christmas.

Tim: Thatís often the way it goes though. Once the floors are in and the door frames, and the walls have all been painted white, it suddenly starts looking like a home. So, letís have a look around. We need to go through all the rooms, open and close windows and doors and make sure thereís nothing missing. Shall we start upstairs?

George: That sounds good. I canít wait to see the bathrooms.

Tim: Theyíre neat and tidy, but thereíll be needing another good clean before you can use them.

Helen: Thatís fine. We intend to come in here tomorrow and get everything sorted before moving in on Friday.

Helen: Iím really impressed. Everything has come together perfectly. Thank you so much for all your hard work. I love the way the space flows but you still get the impression of separate areas.

George: And the bathrooms, theyíre going to be so much easier to use with all that tiling.

Tim: Yes, itís looking good. So, letís just go through the list and make sure I havenít forgotten anything. The electrician needs to come back to replace the damaged switch in the bathroom and show you how to regulate the heating system. Iíll ask him to come in on Friday. The joiner has got to tidy up the skirting board around the base of the stairs and look at the door to the utility room, which seems to be scraping the floor. Iíll also get in touch with the painter, but I suggest he comes next week. You never know, you might scrape a wall moving the furniture around, and he wonít mind touching up those areas at the same time. Is there anything else?

George: So, what about maintenance then. What do we have to do once everybody has left the site?

Tim: Well, Iíll be putting together maintenance manual for you with some suggestions. But itís up to you how much you do and when you do it. Nevertheless, things that are looked after and kept in a good condition last longer. So I do suggest, for example, that you have the heating system serviced once a year.

George: Of course, that makes sense. I presume weíll need the solar collectors checked every now and then, too.

Tim: Yes, itís most probably best to sign a maintenance agreement with a plumber. And if youíre happy with the work Simon Sparks has done, why donít you have a chat with him?

George: Thatís a good idea. He seems very reliable and thorough. Oh, before I forget. We wanted to ask whether you can recommend a gardener. We really thought weíd do it ourselves. But now weíre thinking about getting somebody in. We could get a quote for the terrace area, and still make a decision.

Tim: Okay, Iíll have a think about that. At least thereís no rush. Nobody will be wanting to sit out there in this weather.

George: Well, thank you Tim for everything youíve done. Weíre extremely grateful.

Helen: There must still be a lot of paperwork to sort out?

Tim: Yes, thatís right. There will be a few more meetings, phone calls and emails before you finally get rid of me.

George: Thatís fine and we didnít expect anything else.

Now take a look at the snag list that Tim has drawn up and mark the items that need to be seen to:

- Fit bulbs into the lights.
- Replace the damaged light switch.
- Reset the heating system.
- Repair the broken tile in childrenís bathroom upstairs.
- Compile a maintenance manual.
- Redo the skirting board at the bottom of the stairs.
- Replace the door to the utility room.
- Touch up all the marks on the white walls.
- Lay a terrace.
- Plant some trees.

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