So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and build a new home. You’ve picked out the perfect lot, drawn up all of your plans, and found the ideal home builder to bring your dream to life. But what if things go wrong? What recourse do you have against your home builder if they make mistakes? Let’s find out.
What to Do If Your Home Builder Makes Mistakes
After moving into a new home, you may find minor issues like loose doorknobs or a cracked tile. Or you could find two years later that your builder used untreated wood for your deck! You can usually work with your builder to ask for fixes with more easily fixed issues.
However, if your builder is not available to remedy your issues, there is a process you must go through to legally give your builder a chance to make good on the problems.
If the Builder Doesn’t Work With You to Solve Problems
The process to legally notify your contractor of the problems includes several steps:
- At least 60 days before filing suit against a contractor to recover damages arising from a construction defect, you must provide notice of the claim to your contractor by certified mail with a return receipt requested to the contractor’s last known address. In your letter, you must specify in reasonable detail the construction defects.
- After the contractor receives the written notice, they may ask for supporting evidence from you, such as photos or video. It is wise to help them see the problem.
- Your contractor has 35 days (after receiving the letter) to inspect your property.
- The contractor must get you a written settlement offer within 45 days of their receipt of your letter.
- Your contractor’s offer may include an agreement to repair the defect, an offer to source out the repairs to an independent contractor, or an offer to give you the cash value of the issue.
- You have 25 days to decline or accept the offer.
- The contractor has 45 days to repair the defects after they receive a written notice of acceptance from you.
- If you decline within 25 days, the contractor has 10 days to get another offer to you once receiving your notice of decline.
Before declining an offer to repair, remediate, or pay for your issues, it’s crucial to speak with a real estate attorney who can help you see clearly whether the offer is valid. An experienced Texas real estate attorney will know your next best steps in this situation.
What Recourse Do I Have Against a Home Builder?
The Texas Residential Construction Liability Act (RCLA) in Ch.27 of the Texas Property Code covers you if you and your contractor can’t find an agreement, including reasonable costs for significant problems you notice within a:
- 4-year period for breach of contract or breach of warranty
- 2-year period for torts such as negligence or product liability
If you prove your case, the court will cover your expenses for:
- Damaged personal property
- Costs of repairs or replacements of construction defects
- Reasonable and necessary engineering and consulting fees
- Reasonable expenses for temporary housing if needed during the repair period
- Alteration of, repair, or addition to your home where you have a claim against your contractor
- Reduction in current market value if construction defect results in a structural failure
- Reasonable attorney fees
- Court costs
For example, if your builder installed a roof on your new home that leaks every time it rains, you’ll notice that immediately. You can file a lawsuit if your builder won’t come back and fix the problem or pay for damages according to the process above. You have legal standing since you suffered physical damage to your new residential property caused by a significant construction defect.
Statute of Limitations for Home Builder Mistakes
The statute of limitations to file your lawsuit is 2 years in Texas for negligence or product liability. However, if your deck starts rotting 2 years after you move in, you may not notice the problem in the first 2 years. What then?
In that case, you may file a lawsuit up to 2 years after you notice the problem. With a builder using defective wood for a deck, you have no way of knowing about it until your deck starts to rot. So the legal statute of limitations allows you to file up to two years after seeing the problem.
We Can Help
At Jarrett Law, we see new construction legal issues crop up with new homes all the time. If you have a problem with your home builder that you can’t resolve amicably, we can help you get what you’re entitled to under Texas law. Because many home builders are large corporations with teams of lawyers on their side, it’s almost impossible to file and win a suit of this type without legal help. If you’re wondering what recourse you have against a home builder, talking with us will help you see your legal options.
Our experienced real estate attorneys can look at your specific case and advise you of what recourse you may have. We’ll also let you know what to expect during the process and what the next best steps are for you. Contact us today and find out how we can help!
Download 11 Ways to Defend Against Foreclosure
If you are facing financial difficulties, this resource may be your first defense! Check your email inbox for the download link!