Home Construction Standards, Warranties Now Effective in Texas

June 13, 2005

  • June 13, 2005 at 8:11 am
    Janet Ahmad says:
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    TRCC seems to have no authority to help homeowners, but has plenty of authority to help builders. The agency set a new standard for â€Åâ€Ŕgood enough for the public,” meaning substandard minimums. Behind these standards is a scandal involving Texas A&M and the Construction Science Department that got a $40,000 TRCC grant to draft a State Limited Warranty and Performance Standards. The co-principals heading the project are two attorneys who are not construction experts, but in fact Business Risk Management experts.

    The standards fall short of protecting homebuyers, allowing foundations to crack and tilt significantly. Unlimited interior and exterior cracks throughout homes are now the acceptable standard.

    What gives Texas builders an incentive to build a home that will last the life of the mortgage if the consumers are the ones being regulated? For now, Texas homebuyers are stuck with TRCC and the Limited Warranty that serves the industry as a builder disclaimer to shirk responsibility, offering the least buyer protection in the nation.

    Janet Ahmad, President
    HomeOwners for Better Building
    (210)402-6800

  • June 13, 2005 at 11:53 am
    John Cobarruvias says:
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    An OP-ED on the new home warranties which take effect June 1, 2005.

    Texas new home warranties. A trick on the public.
    by John R. Cobarruvias

    Mr. Cobarruvias is President of Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings, Texas and a long time consumer activist in new home construction, insurance and tort reform. He has testified in many hearings during the legislation session with an emphasis on the Texas Residential Construction Commission.

    Two years after the creation of the Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC), a Commission to regulate homebuilders in Texas, the Commission has released warranty standards for all new home construction in Texas. This standard, which comes into effect June 1, 2005, was created on a flawed foundation of promises of consumer protection and heavy influence by the homebuilding industry. For new homebuyers, there are only two words of encouragement available: Good Luck.

    The first version of the warranty standard created by Texas A&M University was nearly identical to the numerous 10-year warranties provided by the homebuilding industry in the past, and it contained just as many flaws, exceptions, excuses, and extremely limited protection. The final set of standards isn’t much better.

    By law, the standards cover 1 year for workmanship, 2 years for air and electrical, and 10 years for structural damage. Common sense defects such, as hardwood floors buckling after 1 year is not covered. Neither is ceramic tile cracking and lifting off the floor. Leaking roofs, paint fading or cracking, siding coming apart, carpets buckling, driveway cracking and literally coming apart, bricks cracking, mortar prematurely deteriorating all are examples of what is not covered once the 1-year warranty expires.

    Even within the 1-year limitation defects such as cracks in the walls wide enough to insert a credit card is within the warranty standards, as well as hundreds of cracks in the wall, cracks in the exterior bricks, and cracks in exterior stucco.

    Prior to the creation of the TRCC, homeowners were protected by the “implied warranty of good workmanship” granted in 1968 which covered defects based simply on the common sense of a home inspector, or a jury. This common sense warranty has now been waived, replaced with the explicit litmus test warranty standards now with a rock solid 1-year limitation on workmanship.

    The homebuilding industry, claiming to be acting on behalf of the consumer, convinced the Texas House and Senate that the implied warranty was “vague” and created confusion between builders and owners on what defects should be covered. This resulted in the waiving of the implied warranty, a great loss to the consumer and a huge boom for the homebuilders.

    The standards also expressly limit air conditioning, heating, and electrical problems to only 2 years. Defects such as an air conditioner failing on a hot summer day after 2 years is not covered. A new air conditioner installed in an existing home usually is warranted for up to 10 years, but on a new home it is now limited to 2 years.

    Structural damage is warranted for 10 years, although the loopholes and exceptions in the standard will make it difficult to qualify. The homeowner is also required, by the warranty, to maintain the water content of the ground around the foundation, in short, homeowners are required to “water” their foundation in order to preserve their foundation warranty. This is unreasonable especially since the TRCC cannot determine how to achieve this water content. This is just one of many exclusions and unnecessary requirements that are throughout the standard.

    With the release of this extremely limited warranty standard and waiving of the implied warranty of common sense, the TRCC, appropriately pronounced, “trick”, an agency created by the homebuilding industry for the homebuilding industry, has played its final trick on the homebuyers of Texas.

    John R. Cobarruvias


    John R. Cobarruvias
    Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings
    john.cobarruvias@hadd.com
    14646 Cardinal Creek Ct
    Houston, TX 77062
    281-486-5203 H
    281-483-9357 W

    http://www.hadd.com

  • June 13, 2005 at 12:00 pm
    CS says:
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    I agree with Mr. Cobarruvias. These laws were written by and for the building industry just as “right to repair” laws are written by and for builders. The fact these laws are marketed as good for consumers is outrageous.

  • June 13, 2005 at 4:01 am
    Chris says:
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    You guys forgot to mention the mandatory arbitration provision in most builders’ contracts, which, for most people stuck with a bad house, a financial burden that is so high as to make pursuing unresolved complaints against the builder just a dream for the average homeowner.

  • June 13, 2005 at 4:39 am
    CRAZY says:
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    well lets get back to the insurance issue. with trick now in place is that going to make insurance companies come back into the Texas commerical market and issue policys. my answer to this question is maybe, in that the know liability is stated in the contract and it moves the problem out of the courts into some type of arbitration. so for insurance folks this maybe be good, we just have to wait and see.

  • June 13, 2005 at 4:47 am
    John Cobarruvias says:
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    Insurance companies never left. The insurance “leaving Texas” was nothing but a scare tactic and it worked just fine. The builders are now using it again, while record profits are being made from builders and insurers.

    Heck, the builders ought to just drop their liability. They cant get sued anyway!

  • June 13, 2005 at 6:15 am
    Mark says:
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    Hell, Nationwide writes general and product liability for home builders. That’s not even surplus. There was no home builder insurance crisis in Texas.

  • June 14, 2005 at 8:03 am
    Hal says:
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    What is lacking here is that most remodelers are very small businesses. What’s going to guaranty that the little guy can meet this obligation to fix a problem?

  • June 14, 2005 at 8:41 am
    Chris says:
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    Hal, you’re joking, right?

    This law has nothing to do with protecting the homeowner from the small contractor that has no insurance and no assets. This law is about protecting the big time builders (read: large political donors, i.e. David Weekly) that have assets, from homeowners that have been sold shoddily built houses.

    If this were a true consumer protection law, it would be like the lemon law for cars. The standard for what is an acceptible level of defects would be zero. After the builders had to eat enough of these badly built houses, they’d quit sub-contracting out to contractors that get their “craftsmen” (read: day-laborers) on street corners.

    As many flaws as the thirty year old used house that I just bought has, I’d stack it up to anything new being sold by the big-time guys today.

  • June 14, 2005 at 8:47 am
    Hal says:
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    I’m just slow this week. Thanks for laying it out for me.

  • June 14, 2005 at 10:39 am
    John Cobarruvias says:
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    If this bill and Commission was for consumer protection, the builders who wrote the bill would have consulted with consumer groups and consumers BEFORE they wrote the bill that created the commission and this warranty!

    Read more facts about the TRCC here:
    http://www.hadd.com/documents/trccfacts.pdf

    And visit http://www.trccwatch.com a website that will watch the TRCC

  • June 15, 2005 at 11:50 am
    Nancy Seats says:
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    Wealthy homebuilders in Texas have been getting legislation passed to protect themselves from shoddy construction for years. Now that legislation is spreading across the country and devastating families in every state.

    The money these builders spend on political activity from campaign donations to lobbying would be far better spent on roofing felt, window flashing, rebar in foundations, proper grading, and soil testing. In fact I am certain that proper construction would cost them LESS than their political activity is costing them. IF they built houses properly they wouldn’t need protection from law suits.

    WHY do they do this? Because they can, I guess. To show the power that they have. One day the bad builders will have to face their maker, and so will the good builders who went along with this atrocity.

    Nancy
    President,
    Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings

  • October 6, 2005 at 8:29 am
    SHAYNE WILSON says:
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    HEY I WOULD JUST LIKE TO HAVE A WARRANTY WITH OUR NEW HOUSE OUR BUILDER QUIT,DID NOT FINNISH OUR HOUSE AND LEFT TO GO TO FLORIDA WHEN THE HURRICANE HIT. WE HAD TO PAY OTHER CONTRACTORS TO FINNISH IT.OUT OF OUR POCKETS EXPENCE AND NO MONEY TO HIGHER A LAWYER AFTER THE EXTRA COST. OUR FRONT PORCH IS 1.5 INCHES HIGH ON THE OUTSIDE EDEGE ALLOWING OR FORCING WATER RUN OFF TO COME DIRECTLY INTO OUR HOUSE. CONCRETE CONTRACTOR SAID WE HAVE A YEAR WARRANTY BUT REFUSED REPAIR SO WE DID NOT PAY HIM FOR HIS WORK SO. HE FILED A LIEN ON OUR HOUSE AS THE LAW SAY’S HE CAN. NOW HE HAS FILED FOR FORCLOSER ON OUR HOUSE.WE MAY LOSE EVERTHING. TRCC SAID THAT SINCE WE HAD THE AS PORCH REPAIRED OUT OF OUR POCKETS THAT THAT WAS NO LONGER AN ISSUE TO THEM. THE MORAL OR THIS IS IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF YOU HOME DO NOT HAVE IT FIXED @ YOUR EXPENCE. TRCC IS A JOKE AND YOU AS A HOME OWNER HAVE NO RIGHTS IN TEXAS. HELP IF YOU CAN PLEASE E-MAIL ME WITH YOUR RESPONSE’S I NEED ALL THE HELP I CAN GET



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