News 8 has reported numerous stories of homeowners complaining of shoddy construction, and being left with expensive repairs.
Lawmakers promised to find a way to hold homebuilders accountable, but some wonder if a bill passed Monday really does that.
Some consumer groups believe that instead of listening to them, lawmakers heard the jingle of homebuilders who make huge campaign contributions. Consumer groups concede the legislation that passed in the Texas House begins to set building standards, but consumers claim the legislation might actually make it harder for homeowners hold builders responsible for bad construction.
Unsafe and leaky construction has forced Dawn Richardson to move out of the new home she's still paying for. Richardson said the problem was mold, and the lack of a statewide code that would require homebuilders to meet specific standards.
"The builders know they can't be held accountable, so I don't think that they are working to resolve issues," Richardson said.
Monday, the House passed a law that would direct the governor to appoint a building commission. It would adopt Texas building standards, meaning the builders could be fined or lose their licenses if homeowners can prove the standards aren't met.
"You lay out the cards of what you know about your construction defect," said Rep. Allan Ritter, D-Nederland. "The state inspector makes his determination, they notify the builder, and if the builder doesn't fix it or agree to fix it, you take them to the courthouse."
The bill's author acknowledges his legislation was influenced by the homebuilding industry. Opponents, including state representative Steve Wolens, call the bill a sham.
"It is offensive," said Wolens, D-Dallas. "It is obscene."
Wolens objected to a provision that requires builders to register with the state, though they still don't have to be licensed.
"All you do is pay a fee, and you become a homebuilder or home remodeler," Wolens said. "It means nothing."
Consumer groups also complain that under this bill, homeowners would lose a lot of their warranty protection.
"We are giving up the implied warranties, which allow consumers to have a jury of their peers and a court oversee what is in the consumer's best interest," said Reggie James of the Consumers Union.
Richardson said she had hoped lawmakers would craft a bill that forced builders to be responsible. She believes this legislation only protects them further.
Consumer advocates said the current complaint process for wronged homeowners isn't good, but the proposed process would be weighted in favor of the builders. They also said it would be so complex that homeowners would have to hire attorneys to pursue a complaint.
Homebuilders have said they're trying to offer solutions, and additionally, this legislation could change when it gets to the Senate.