If you’re like most Texans, you dream of one day owning a custom-built home. You may have already started planning and are now in the early stages of residential construction. While this is an exciting time, it’s essential to be aware of the legal issues that can come up during the process. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the key legal considerations you need to keep in mind when building your new home. So read on for what you need to know!
What to Consider When Planning Residential Construction
If you’re considering building a new home in Texas, there are legal issues to get on top of before starting. First, consider your construction contract. You’ll need legal counsel to review and help you negotiate the terms. Next, you’ll need to consider how to handle any disputes that come up. There are specific steps to go through with your builder to remediate any differences of opinion.
If worse comes to worst, you’ll need help to recover funds if your builder is not reputable or if a contractor puts a lien on your home. You’ll need to rely on the legal Residential Construction Liability Act (RCLA) process when making construction defects claims.
Let’s go through the legal issues you may face while handling the residential construction of your new home.
One of the first things you’ll need to do when starting residential construction is to sign a contract with your builder. This contract will outline all the terms of the build, including the price, timeline, and scope of work.
It’s essential to have a lawyer review your contract before you sign it. They can help ensure that the terms are fair and that you understand what you agree to. Understanding the contract is crucial – what to look for and how to negotiate terms.
Your contract must include a few key elements:
- A detailed description of the work to be performed
- The schedule for the work to be completed
- The price of the project
- Who is responsible for obtaining permits and inspections
- The warranties that included
If any of these things are missing from your contract, ask your builder to include them. You may also want to negotiate for a better price or payment schedule. For example, you could ask for a discount if you’re willing to pay for the project upfront.
Once you’ve signed the contract, it’s essential to make sure that both you and your builder adhere to the terms. If you need any changes, be sure to get them in writing. Written agreements help avoid disputes down the road.
Construction Disputes in Texas
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 RCLA applies to “any action to recover damages or other relief arising from a construction defect.”
Chapter 27 of the Texas property code also 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.
How to Resolve Construction Disputes in Texas
Unfortunately, construction disputes are not uncommon. They can arise for various reasons, including poor communication, change orders, and delays. If you find yourself in a dispute with your builder, there is a specific process that you’ll need to follow.
First, you’ll need to notify your builder in writing of the issue. 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’s offer must include either an agreement to repair the defect OR a deal to have the defect fixed by an independent contractor.
You can accept or reject the 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 ten days if you decline it.
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.
If you reject the contractor’s offer, you may start a mediation process with the contractor or builder. 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 constructing a new residential home. However, with some help, you can get your new or existing residence looking and functioning as it should!
Recovering Funds from a Builder or Contractor
If you’ve tried the above methods for resolving a construction dispute and are still unsatisfied, you may need to take more drastic measures. Suing your contractor or builder is a possibility, but it’s essential to understand the process and what to expect.
First, if you plan on suing your contractor or builder, you’ll need an experienced real estate attorney who can guide you through the process and help you understand your options.
In your lawsuit, you’ll need to include the following:
- A statement of the residential construction defects
- The estimated cost to repair the defects (if available)
- Proof that you gave proper notice to the contractor or builder
- Any other relevant evidence
Once you’ve filed your lawsuit, the court will set a date for a hearing. At the hearing, both you and the contractor or builder will have an opportunity to present your case. After reviewing all of the evidence, the court will make a decision.
If the court decides in your favor, you’ll be awarded damages. These damages may include the cost of repairs, the cost of hiring an independent contractor, and any other reasonable costs associated with the construction defects.
It’s important to note that you may not be able to recover all of your losses in a lawsuit. For example, if the court finds that you were partially at fault for the construction defects, the court may reduce the damages you receive.
Additionally, if the contractor or builder cannot pay the damages awarded to you by the court, you may not be able to collect on the judgment. In this case, you may want to consider filing a lien on the property.
A lien is a legal claim against the property you can use to collect on a debt. If you have a valid lien against a property, the contractor or builder can’t sell the property until they pay the debt.
We Can Help
If you’re thinking of building a new home in Texas, there are legal issues to get on top of before starting. You can avoid many potential problems by understanding the residential construction process and knowing your rights.
If you run into legal issues, consult an experienced real estate attorney who can help you resolve the issue and protect your rights. At Jarrett Law, we work with you to ensure that building a new home goes smoothly.
Contact us today so we can work with you from the beginning of the process and head off any potential problems before they begin! With some planning and preparation, you can enjoy your new home without legal headaches.
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