With its wide open spaces and low cost of living, it’s no wonder that more and more people are calling the Lone Star State home. But before you start building or sign that residential contractor improvement agreement, there are a few things you need to know about the law, particularly, Chapter 27 Texas property code. So if you’re thinking of building your dream home in Texas or just remodeling your existing residence, read on!

What is Chapter 27 Texas Property Code? 

Chapter 27 concerns residential construction, contractor remodeling of an existing residence, or hiring a contractor to add a new structure to your property. This chapter covers topics like builder warranties, contractor licensing, lien law, construction defects, reasonable costs, and more!

In other words, it’s everything you need to know to protect your interests, whether you’re building or upgrading an existing home in Texas.

What is a Residential Defect?

A construction defect is a matter in which you have a complaint against a contractor concerning:

  • Design
  • Construction
  • Repair of a new residence
  • Alteration of or repair or addition to an existing residence
  • Appurtenance to a residence

A residential defect is any deficiency in the design, construction, or performance of a dwelling that:

  • Materially affects habitability.
  • Can reasonably be expected to threaten the life, health, or safety of an ordinary occupant
  • Causes physical damage to property located on or near the premises
  • Substantially impairs or interferes with the use and enjoyment of another person’s property on or near the premises.

If you think you may have a claim, the first step is to send a written notice to the builder or contractor. This notice must include a description of the problem and your name, address, and telephone number. Once you’ve sent this notice, the builder or contractor will have an opportunity to inspect the property and determine whether or not the problem is indeed a residential defect.

If you’re still having trouble getting your builder or contractor to take action, you may want to consider working with a local real estate attorney to take your next best steps and get the outcome you deserve.

What is the Residential Construction Liability Act?

The Residential Construction Liability Act (RCLA) is a part of Chapter 27. It promotes settlement negotiations about construction defects between contractors and residential property owners.

The Texas residential construction liability act gives the procedures for providing notice, getting an inspection, and settling claims related to construction defects. The Texas residential construction liability act applies to “any action to recover damages or other relief arising from a construction defect, except a claim for personal injury, survival, or wrongful death or for damage to goods.”

Can You Sue a Home Builder in Texas?

Suing a home builder is not something most people want to think about when planning their dream home. But if something goes wrong during construction, it’s essential to know that you have options under the law.

For example, chapter 27 of the Texas property code allows homeowners to sue builders for breach of contract or warranty, but only after working through the steps in the Texas Residential Construction Liability Act.

Filing a Complaint Against a Home Builder in Texas

According to the Texas residential construction liability act, before filing a lawsuit, you’ll need to send your contractor 60 days’ written notice of your complaints via certified mail, return receipt requested. Write your notice to describe, in reasonable detail, the construction defects. 

Suppose the contractor asks for evidence of the construction defect. In that case, you’ll need to provide pictures or other proof of the residential construction defect and what you need to remedy the problem.

The contractor may request to inspect your property within 35 days of receiving your notification letter. The inspection will help your contractor understand the defect better and see what the repairs may entail. You must, by law, give the contractor a reasonable opportunity to inspect the property.

Your contractor has 45 days from receiving your notice to make a written offer of settlement describing in reasonable detail what repairs they will do for your construction defect.

The contractor offer must include the following:

  • Either an agreement to repair the defect OR
  • An agreement to have the defect fixed by an independent contractor

You can accept or reject the settlement offer within 25 days of receipt. If you don’t accept or reject the offer within 25 days, the contractor may assume you rejected the offer. If you want to reject the offer, it’s best to write a letter explaining your reasons for rejecting the offer. The contractor may also add to their offer within 10 days if you reject the offer.

If you accept the contractor or builder’s offer, they must complete the repairs within 45 days unless you delay them or events happen that are out of their control.

Mediation and Lawsuits

You may start a mediation process with the contractor or builder if you reject the offer because it is unfair. Eventually, you may be able to sell a new home with construction defects back to the builder! The Texas Residential Construction Liability Act covers this process in detail.

However, you may find yourself in a situation where you must take legal action. Ensure your best outcome by consulting an experienced attorney to discuss your options.

Construction defects are often a part of remodeling and new homes. However, with some help, you can get your new or existing residence looking and functioning like it should!

Texas Residential Construction Liability Act Time Limits

In Texas, home builders are responsible for a residential construction defect in their work for 2 – 4 years, beginning when the property owner discovered or could have reasonably discovered the defect. This “statute of limitations does not apply if faulty materials or design caused the defect. In that case, the builder may be held liable for longer.

Additionally, the statute of limitations may extend if the builder fails to disclose known defects before entering into a contract with the homeowner. Suppose you’re unsure whether your situation falls within one of these exceptions. In that case, it’s essential to consult with an experienced real estate attorney who can help you understand your rights and options under the law.

Resources for a Residential Construction Defect

If you’re thinking of building a home in Texas, the best thing you can do is educate yourself about the process. In addition to chapter 27 of the Texas property code, many other resources can help you navigate the construction process.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, for example, offers a wealth of information on its website. Homeowners in Houston can talk to the Permitting and Inspection Department or the city’s Chief Building Official (CBO) about the following:

  • Building code requirements and amendments based on local construction practices, new products, and new technology.
  • Code interpretations made by the CBO during the project’s construction.
  • The inspections performed on the home during construction.
  • Get an inspector to examine the situation and give an opinion based on local building code requirements.
  • Find the builder registration program or commission that addresses contractors operating in the city and related construction issues (1)

Local departments can help you understand the construction process further. However, your local real estate attorney will be able to advise you best and protect your interests exclusively.

Bottom Line

No one likes to think about the possibility of things going wrong when building their dream home. But unfortunately, construction projects don’t always go as planned. That’s why it’s essential to understand the law in Texas and know your rights as a homeowner.

With this knowledge, you can rest assured that you’re protected if something goes wrong during construction.

We Can Help

At Jarrett Law, our real estate attorneys work to keep you protected as you build your new home or remodel your existing home. By working with your contracts and negotiating terms for you, we save you time and money. And we help you have peace of mind as you undertake your remodeling or new home project! 

If you need to mediate or file a lawsuit, we are with you every step of the way! Contact us today to find out more about real estate law. We are here for you!