A carefully designed snag list is a prerequisite for successful defect management in governmental & municipal construction. We therefore provide you with a free MS Excel template, which you can fill in and adapt according to your individual needs. Simply fill out the form at the end of this article to receive the free Excel Snag List template. This spreadsheet will save you time, give you a better overview and ensure that no important points are forgotten when it comes to documenting and fixing snags.

Contrary to what many believe, construction defects, also known as snags, do not only occur in private building construction, but also in governmental & municipal construction. Governmental & municipal construction includes among others the construction of roads, railway stations, government buildings, public swimming pools, schools, libraries, prisons and many more. The authority tendering the project often has very precise ideas about the quality and price ordered. As the projects in the governmental & municipal construction industry are financed by public funds, it is particularly important for construction companies and subcontractors to avoid snags as much as possible to keep costs manageable and to be able to land additional public contracts in the future. This article therefore deals with why snags occur in governmental & municipal construction occur, how companies in the industry can reduce the risk of defects, what a snagging list for governmental & municipal construction should look like and who uses such a list.

What are the common challenges when it comes to governmental & municipal construction?

The public sector is a popular client for construction companies. One reason for this is that the government is seen as a particularly reliable and big-spending client, regularly tendering for large contracts. The governmental & municipal construction industry forms a large part of the construction industry as a whole in the UK and engages numerous contractors and subcontractors each year. However, construction companies that carry out government contracts are not spared challenges. Indeed, like the commercial and private construction sectors, governmental & municipal construction is currently facing some pressing problems. In numerous instances, it is these problems that ultimately lead to snags. To understand the risk of snags in governmental & municipal construction, one must first learn what the current challenges of the industry are. Below, we present the four most pressing challenges that the governmental & municipal construction industry is currently facing.

Aspects of the environment and sustainability

One aspect that has gained particular importance in the governmental & municipal construction industry recently is environmental compatibility and sustainability. The United Kingdom has committed itself to achieving the Paris environmental goals. However, there is still a long way to go, and the construction industry is considered one of the biggest environmental offenders. When it comes to its own contracts, the UK government must therefore set a good example and impose strict requirements on the environmental performance of construction. The environmental requirements for public construction in England are often higher than those for many private and commercial contracts, which in some cases only adhere to the legal minimum requirements, but do not exceed them.

Companies in the governmental & municipal construction industry also strive to build in an environmentally friendly way. However, the strict requirements of the public sector bring with them additional challenges that contractors and subcontractors have to deal with. In recent years, this has led to more work, increased material costs and a greater need for appropriately qualified skilled workers, among other things.

High quality standards

The public sector is considered a customer who is less fussy about costs than private and commercial customers. However, authorities and municipalities usually do have clear ideas about the quality of construction. In many cases, the requirements of the public sector exceed the legal minimum requirements. Higher requirements mean that more qualified personnel must be employed and that construction defects arise more quickly. The public sector as a customer is also often particularly thorough when it comes to checking the quality of construction. As a result, construction defects are reported rather sooner and in greater numbers than with other clients. Over the last few decades, the demands of the public have risen massively. For contractors, this means more work, while they still have to remain affordable enough to be nominated for public contracts. This is not always easy and can lead to discrepancies, delays and massively higher project costs afterwards.

Rising costs

In the UK and throughout the Western world, costs have risen massively over the last twelve months. Companies in the governmental & municipal construction industry are feeling the effects of these price increases, primarily in the form of expensive building materials and huge increases in energy costs. In the future, the British government will have to reduce its massive mountain of debt, which could be financed by savings on new infrastructure projects, among other things. Companies in the governmental & municipal construction industry are thus struggling against higher costs and less revenue at the same time. In some cases, the quality of work suffers, which can lead to snags. But why have costs in the governmental & municipal construction industry risen so much in the first place?

The truth is that the construction industry as a whole, like the rest of the economy in the UK, has been affected by the record high inflation. Since construction relies both indirectly and directly on large quantities of raw materials and energy, it suffers the price increases particularly severely. The reasons for the high energy costs are mainly due to the war in Ukraine, which led to a shortage of oil and especially gas in the UK. The higher energy costs increase the cost of transporting materials, operating construction equipment and electricity costs. Another factor is the increased cost of building materials. These are due to various causes. The situation was triggered by the increase in the money supply, with the Covid aid. The interrupted supply chains due to lockdowns in Asia also drove up the cost of limited building materials. With the war in Ukraine, there was also a shortage of construction and raw materials from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The raised energy costs due to the war are also driving up the production and transport of building materials. As construction personnel also have higher expenses due to massive inflation in the UK, they demand higher wages, which makes labour costs more expensive.

Public interest pressure

Companies in the governmental & municipal construction industry are much more exposed to the public than other construction companies. As construction projects are funded by taxpayers’ money, the public has an interest in ensuring that such projects are delivered on time and within promised costs. For particularly large or prestigious contracts, it is even more important for construction companies not to embarrass themselves in front of the public and the client. The larger and more demanding a project is, however, the higher the risk of major and consequential snags as a rule. Therefore, it is important for the respective companies and subcontractors to pay special attention and to ensure that the management leads and communicates efficiently and clearly.

For this reason, among others, the operating costs for construction companies that accept contracts from the public sector are often higher than for construction companies that are only active in the private sector.

Adoption of technology

The introduction of new technologies is absolutely necessary for the governmental & municipal construction industry in the UK to remain competitive in the 21st century. However, many companies in the governmental & municipal construction industry struggle to adopt and implement modern technological approaches. The construction industry is known to be averse to new technologies. Paradoxically, however, many of the challenges currently facing the governmental & municipal construction industry could be drastically reduced through the use of modern technologies. Modern technologies for the construction industry include the 3D printer, drones, smart building materials or construction software such as PlanRadar, which allows construction companies to work more efficiently, cost-effectively and in a more organized manner.

There is still a lot of room for improvement. However, the digitization of the governmental & municipal construction industry is already making initial progress. The United Kingdom, for example, is a global pioneer in BIM and the use of construction software is increasing rapidly year after year.

What can builders do to maintain a high building quality? 

Currently, companies in the governmental & municipal construction industry are facing various challenges. Many of these challenges can lead to snags. Even though the situation seems bleak at the moment, there are ways to ensure the highest possible construction quality. 

Whether it is road construction, the construction of a hospital or a new bus stop: first and foremost, it is important to minimize potential sources of error and to identify, document and professionally rectify any defects that occur at an early stage. Here, it is worthwhile to use a professional snagging list, such as the one we offer free of charge. The switch to digital technologies will also be worthwhile when it comes to reducing defects or efficiently documenting and rectifying existing defects. In general, it is important to use limited resources as efficiently as possible and to invest enough money in planning and in defect inspection.

Who uses snag lists in governmental & municipal construction?

Contractors and subcontractors use snagging lists to find defects, document them and then rectify them. For smaller construction projects, such as a small building or a short section of road, the snagging list inspection takes place once, a few days or weeks before acceptance. For larger projects, the project is accepted in individual stages. In this case, more than one check is carried out.  

In the governmental & municipal construction industry, the snagging list is used by construction companies and subcontractors to detect construction defects. However, the authorities or municipalities as clients and their construction experts also use lists to find weak points.

What information should snag lists for governmental & municipal construction contain?

A snagging list for municipal & governmental construction projects should include a variety of details. These include outstanding issues, settling, poor quality craftsmanship, design issues, incorrect materials and latent defects. Other particular factors should also be taken into account when creating snagging lists for municipal & governmental construction. 

Since larger municipal & governmental construction projects takeovers typically occur in stages, it’s crucial to look into the specific sources of snags in the appropriate segment. These include things like parking garages, offices, traffic facilities, etc.

Governmental & municipal construction snagging list template: Conclusion

As in every area of construction, construction defects also occur in the governmental & municipal construction industry. Snags are often unavoidable. However, construction companies should strive to discover such defects in good time and rectify them accordingly, this applies in particular to companies in the governmental & municipal construction industry. If construction defects occur too often, possibly resulting in even higher costs and delays, this may not only be annoying, but may also lead to fewer or no more contracts being awarded by the public sector.

For the governmental & municipal construction industry, it is important to address the challenges and find solutions. This is done with strong leadership and openness to innovative technologies. Innovations in planning and in defect management should not be neglected in the governmental & municipal construction industry. Part of this is inspection by means of a professional snagging list. You can download a free template here.