How does the Texas Residential Construction Liability Act Protect Homeowners?
Suppose you are building your dream home in Texas. You hire a contractor to construct your new residence. However, during the construction process, you noticed bowing of the walls. You also discovered unaligned doors and windows. You raise these concerns to your contractor, but the contractor dismisses your worries. As construction progresses, more issues arise, including water leaks and cracks in the foundation of your residence. This is where the Texas Residential Construction Liability Act (RCLA) helps protect Texas homeowners. The RCLA can be found in Chapter 27 of the Texas Property Code. The RCLA is not a cause of action, but a statute that has established procedures that must be abided by before homeowners can hold contractors liable for the contractors’ construction defects.
What is considered a “construction defect” under the Texas Residential Construction Liability Act?
The RCLA indicates that a “construction defect” has the meaning assigned by Section 401.004; Subtitle D, Title 16, as “a matter concerning the design, construction, or repair of a new residence, of an alteration or repair or addition to an existing residence, or of an appurtenance, or the real property on which the residence and appurtenance are affixed proximately caused by the construction defect.”
Who is considered a “contractor” and/or “builder” under the Texas Residential Construction Liability Act?
The RCLA indicates that a “contractor” means “a builder, as defined by Section 401.003, contracting with an owner for the construction or repair of a new residence, for the repair or alteration of or an addition to an existing residence, or for the construction, sale, alteration, addition, or repair of an appurtenance to a new or existing residence; any person contracting with a purchaser for the sale of a new residence constructed by or on behalf of the person; or a person contracting with an owner or the developer of a condominium for the construction of a new residence, for alteration of or an addition to an existing residence, for repair of a new or existing residence, or for the construction, sale, alteration, addition, or repair of an appurtenance to a new or existing residence; and includes an owner, officer, director, shareholder, partner, or employee of the contractor…”
How is a “residence” defined under the Texas Residential Construction Liability Act?
The RCLA indicates that a “residence” means “the real property and improvements for a single-family house, duplex, triplex, or quadruplex or a unit and the common elements in a multiunit residential structure in which title to the individual is transferred to the owners under a condominium or cooperative system.”
When can a homeowner seek recovery under the Texas Residential Construction Liability Act and pursue a claim against a contractor and/or builder as a result of the contractor’s defects that caused damage to the homeowner’s residence?
The RCLA established notice requirements that have to be abided by before a homeowner can file suit against a contractor and/or builder. Pursuant to Section 27.004, before a homeowner can file a claim against a contractor and/or builder, a homeowner must give the contractor and/or builder written notice certified mail return receipt requested to the contractor’s last known address. The written notice must specify in reasonable detail of the construction defects that are subject of the complaint. The written notice must be received by the contractor and/or builder sixty (60) days prior to filing suit.
Once the contractor and/or builder receives the written notice, the contractor and/or builder has thirty-five (35) days to conduct an inspection upon written request to determine the nature and cause of the defect.
Once the contractor and/or builder receives the written notice, the contractor and/or builder can make a written settlement offer no later than forty-five (45) days after receiving the written notice. If the homeowner accepts the contractor’s and/or builder’s written settlement offer, the contractor and/or builder has forty-five (45) days to implement the repairs pursuant to the settlement agreement. However, if the contractor and/or builder makes a written settlement offer that the homeowner deems unreasonable, the homeowner must advise the contractor and/or builder within twenty-five (25) days after the written settlement offer is received, in writing and reasonable detail, of the reasons the homeowner considers the written settlement offer to be unreasonable.
If proper notice is not given, the contractor and/or builder is allowed to abate the matter until the notice provisions are complied with.
The RCLA is a critical piece of legislation that protects homeowners and ensures that residential construction projects meet high standards of quality and safety. Whether you’re a homeowner or a contractor and/or builder, it is essential to understand your rights and responsibilities under the RCLA. Our office is here to help you navigate the complexities of Texas construction law and ensure your project is a success. If you are facing a construction defect issue or need legal guidance on RCLA compliance, please reach out to our office Law Office of Trevon Watson, PLLC at 832-416-0950.
The information is not offered as legal advice upon which anyone may rely upon. Information in this article is provided for public informational and educational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is created by the offering or reading of this article. This law firm does not represent you until expressly retained by an agreement for legal services. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read in this article.