The controversial state agency that registers home builders is too broken to fix and should be abolished, according to a report from the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission.
The sunset commission recommends that the Legislature get rid of the 5-year-old Texas Residential Construction Commission, according to a report released Tuesday. The sunset commission spent six months analyzing the agency, said Joey Longley, executive director.
The report said the TRCC is not a true regulatory agency and is not effective in keeping problem builders from working. The report also said that the process for homeowners to resolve disputes can be difficult and frustrating and that homeowners do not trust the inspection process.
The sunset commission concluded "that anything short of a true regulatory program does more harm than good, and should be abolished."
Duane Waddill, the construction commissions executive director, said the agency plans to counter the recommendation with suggestions that would bring it closer to what the sunset commission wants the TRCC to be.
In a statement about the report, the TRCC said the ability to handle conflicts between homeowners and home builders is an essential role.
"With the downturn of the market and the ongoing crisis among lending institutions, eroding consumer confidence in the housing industry by deregulating the building industry could be strike three to a fragile economy," the TRCC statement said.
The TRCC will discuss the report at its next meeting, on Sept. 3, and will take suggestions to the sunset commissions public meeting Sept. 23-24.
Consumer groups such as Homeowners for Better Building and Texas Watch have described the agency as a bureaucracy that lacks the teeth to stop bad building practices or offer consumer protection. Home builders said the agency is important for consumers and builders.
Scott Norman, executive director of the Texas Association of Builders, said the construction commission provides important consumer protection such as warranties and an avenue for disputing problems that sometimes arise. The agency has also punished 500 builders and registered 28,000 builders, giving some oversight to the profession, he said.
Ron Connally, an Amarillo home builder and the TABs first vice president, said the recommendation is shortsighted.
"The Texas Association of Builders is disappointed that the sunset commission staff has recommended throwing the residential construction industry in this state back to a time when there was no regulation at all of the industry with no corresponding ability to prevent bad actors from continuing to harm Texas consumers," he said in a statement.
The sunset commission report said homeowners must go through the agency to air disputes with home builders before going to court. In reality, homeowners get so frustrated with the process that the cases never go to court, according to the report.
"No other regulatory agency has a program with such a potentially devastating effect on consumers ability to seek their own remedies," the report said.
The agency has been controversial since state lawmakers created it, in 2003. The Legislature has expanded the agencys powers, most recently in 2007. It can now enforce 26 rules instead of five, impose larger fines and was to start requiring building inspections for homes built in counties, Waddill said.
The sunset commission reviews state entities and can recommend changing or abolishing agencies. Any final action is left to the Legislature.