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Houston Chronicle: Department that regulates construction will be phased out
Friday, 12 June 2009

End mapped out for Texas construction agency
The agency that oversees home building in Texas will be dismantled over the next 14 months under a plan announced Friday. But it will be business as usual for builders and homeowners dealing with the Texas Residential Construction Commission until Aug. 31. After that, the agency starts a one-year wind down of its operations. The TRCC is outlining its demise after lawmakers did not act to save the beleaguered agency from the state’s “sunset” process.

End mapped out for Texas construction agency
Department that regulates construction will be phased out


By JENNIFER HILLER SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

June 12, 2009
Read and Post Your Comments - OUTSTANDING COMMENTS

The agency that oversees home building in Texas will be dismantled over the next 14 months under a plan announced Friday.

But it will be business as usual for builders and homeowners dealing with the Texas Residential Construction Commission until Aug. 31.

After that, the agency starts a one-year wind down of its operations.

The TRCC is outlining its demise after lawmakers did not act to save the beleaguered agency from the state’s “sunset” process.

It will close its doors Aug. 31, 2010.

Under the plan:

• New homes and projects completed by Aug. 31 must be registered with the agency.

• Home inspection requests will be accepted through August from homeowners or builders who are at odds over construction issues.

• The agency will process those complaints through Aug. 31, 2010.

• Builder registrations and renewal registration applications will be accepted through Aug. 31, but will be prorated.

The 5-year-old TRCC was initially billed as a way to regulate home building and create a way for homeowners and builders to resolve disputes out of court. But it had little enforcement authority.

A 2006 audit from the Texas comptroller’s office branded the agency a “paper tiger” and said it shielded builders from responsibility.

The Sunset Advisory Commission staff last year recommended abolishing the agency, in part because of the inability of the agency to force builders to repair shoddy construction work. Homeowners were forced to go through the agency before going to court, but didn’t trust it, the staff report said. “No other regulatory agency has a program with such a potentially devastating effect on consumers’ ability to seek their own remedies,” it said.

In September, Texas reverts to the pre-TRCC law, the Residential Construction Liability Act, which limited damages homeowners could seek and gave builders the right to repair poor construction.

Ned Muñoz, vice president of regulatory affairs and general counsel for the Texas Association of Builders, said that a bill passed this session will allow counties to enforce building codes and conduct home inspections in unincorporated areas — something that will help regulation in the absence of TRCC. “I think that bill is an important thing to have passed in light of the TRCC’s demise,” he said. “It benefits homeowners. It protects home builders to make sure someone who doesn’t build to code won’t undercut the industry.”

Once the agency closes, TRCC spokeswoman Magelly Castiblanco said, it’s still unclear where the agency’s data and records will go. “We had a staff meeting recently and that is a big question,” she said.

The TRCC has about 200 cases pending.

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Comments

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http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6476533.html

Read and Post Your Comments

KountzeTX (8)
KountzeTX wrote:
The TRCC is/was a joke. Good riddance.

6/12/2009 8:01:21 PM

dtd (0)
dtd wrote:
The TRCC was set up by the builders to "filter" weak claims. When homeowners complained about the lack of accountability, the agency listened. In March and April, the TRCC levied huge fines against bad builders, $260,000 against one, $42,000 against another, and $40,000 against another. The builders said "whooah," and rallied to disband the watchdog they created -- they can't have fines! Because the agency is doing its job (filtering weak claims and holding builders accountable), nobody likes them. Without such a device, however, home buyers are left with little recourse against bad builders, as lawsuits (the other option) are very expensive.
Consider this: the TRCC actually generated money for the State. The TRCC collected $6.6 million in fees from builders and homeowners in FY 2005 but spent only $3.7 million, transferring $2.9 million to help balance the state general budget. The fees were largely related to registration fees of builders and houses, and fines (see above). The State has already spent this money, so be prepared to pay it somewhere else.
Further, the public does not understand how much work went into this agency. Sunset is a tremendous waste of this time and taxpayers' money. (Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater). The program does need some tweeks, but this legislature was too lazy and preoccupied with other more wasteful issues to solve this challenge. These legislators (and governor) should be held accountable during the next election.

6/12/2009 8:14:08 PM

KermitsFinger (0)
"Magelly Castiblanco said, it’s still unclear where the agency’s data and records will go."
Castiblanco, give them to your Billionaire Republican Shoddy Home Builder Bosses.

6/12/2009 8:14:19 PM

twobe (22)
twobe wrote:
Good comments here !
Silvertungdevil-let it be understood TRCC was dubbed the "builder" protection agency not one of consumer protection. As far as the arbitration contracts, do you really think TRCC will sit down with a homeowner at arbitration? I really doubt it.
No it is a day when many consumers are rejoicing that we can start again with a fair and balanced playing field.
You cannot even imagine some of he horror stories that were told at testimony. Truly a sad state, literally when elected officals allow people to loose eveything at the hands of some in an industry so they can continue getting their warchest filled, in my opinion.

6/12/2009 8:17:16 PM

CPP (62)
CPP wrote:
Awl ! The early warning system for money bag crooked contractors is going down.

6/12/2009 8:19:26 PM

simple2 (0)
simple2 wrote:
Oh great. Now the county will have building code enforcement? A lot of these faulty homes were built with city code enforcement and this did not solve the problem. The new law is not about protection but about FEE generation for the county. So who do you complain too when your slab starts cracking, mold growing on walls, roof leaking, fireplace draft problems and many others. One would be waiting a very long time if ever for the county to force a builder to repair or replace a defect after its built. The cost of a county built home will go up substantially and the consumer will have the same problems as city owners.

6/12/2009 8:25:57 PM

twobe (22)
twobe wrote:
dtd; Would one of those huge fines be given due to the representation of constituents by an elected officlas who is an attorney? He stood for its demise as so many lost so much in his district. Seems to be not one large scale production builder has been hit. Too many people are still suffering and too many people had to oppose statements made by TRCC during testimony. In one case someone from the agency spewed something false and imflammatory against a homeowner only to find out it was a lie. No one bothered doing their homework. It was about for the most part believeing the builder. All of this can be viewed from testimony in March and April in the Building and licensing committee.

6/12/2009 8:28:47 PM

BluSky (134)
BluSky wrote:
The 5-year-old TRCC was initially billed as a way to regulate home building and create a way for homeowners and builders to resolve disputes out of court. But it had little enforcement authority.
~~
If it had little enforcement authority, it sounds like it was just a roadblock to discourage homeowners from asserting their rights in a court of law.

6/12/2009 8:51:13 PM

truetexanfan (0)
truetexanfan wrote:
Nice to see Bob Perry and David Weekley's lap dog agency go bye bye.

6/12/2009 7:01:34 PM

GFBrown (317)
GFBrown wrote:
Good riddance to bad rubbish.

6/12/2009 7:02:06 PM

Hare_say (0)
Hare_say wrote:
What's the catch? Surely Gov GoodHair wouldn't leave his buddies in a lurch....hmmmm something smells fishy....

6/12/2009 7:03:47 PM

FarBeyondDriven (0)
If only we can persuade our government to phase out other agencies. Especially those who are way to bloated and waste our money.

6/12/2009 7:14:48 PM

KermitsFinger (0)
Hey Rick Perry: How are you going to shield Bob Perry and David Weekley from their victims.

6/12/2009 7:17:09 PM

twobe (22)
twobe wrote:
Let's start now by preparing for a consumer protection agency, not a builder protection one in the next lege session.
One organization keeps calling for licensing, maybe ok idea but my research showed even with licensing there are an overabundance of complaints and nothing happens to the builders, more of TRCC.
A Home Lemon Law would suffice for me, or how about a recovery fund? If there is a Lemon Law for cars the state should certainly should have one for homes.
Let some of these builders live in the homes they built for others, they wouldn't do it on a bet.
How to choose a builder if you so desire, go to Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings, Homeowners for Better Building, Texas Watch ,Consumer Affairs from there you will find more websites to visit.
Lastly, when candidates throw their hats into the ring, you will easily be able to find who their donors are. Keep an eye on those open records.
TRCC-the agency that did so little for so many. Au revoir et salut

6/12/2009 7:22:20 PM

silvertungdevil (2)
Although I am for slashing, who now will represent the homeowner/buyer? And you know whats real sad, is most new home buyers sign a clause in their original contracts holding their builders harmless in the event of desrepencies. For example, say David Weekly or Lennar or Perry home builders improperly install your foundation and a year later you start seeing signs of settlment ( settlement is normal but not in 1 years time) who can you have on your side at the arbitration hearing? Don't think for one minute that these builders are trying to build you the best home they can, they are trying to build it as FAST as they can and that includes cutting corners. Sad day for the consumer, great day for lobbiest and people of their ilk.

6/12/2009 7:29:47 PM

Axel (12)
Axel wrote:
Why so long? Get rid of them now.

6/12/2009 7:36:31 PM

kdh1960 (2)
kdh1960 wrote:
So, Do I get my 500 bucks back for paying to be in thios elite non exsistant government group that I was REQUIRED by LAW to join?
PRORATED????? You have to be Freakin KIdding me........
Dang Now I have to redo my truck signs........

6/12/2009 7:46:33 PM

HotDogs (0)
HotDogs wrote:
Why does it take 14 months to eliminate the perpetuation of a fraud against Texas Homeowners. The legislature should proceed against this agency with the same zeal as the U.S. Congress is proceeding against the Judge accused of sex crimes. This Commission clearly perpetrated one against Texas consumers.

6/12/2009 7:53:39 PM

 
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