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IS YOUR STATE NEXT?
As Goes Texas So Goes the Nation 
TEXAS REGULATES HOMEBUYERS!
NEW HOMEBUYER LEGISLATION MAY BE COMING TO YOUR STATE SOON
!
How Texas Home Building Industry shaped the Texas Residential Construction
Commission (TRCC) and regulates new homebuyers

New Home Buyers no better off
Monday, 09 May 2005
Home builders resist reconstructing rookie agency
Buyers no better off in resolving disputes, say proponents of strengthening regulator this session
The fledgling Texas Residential Construction Commission was created two years ago to provide new performance standards for builders and a formal dispute resolution process between buyers and builders. A remodeling of the commission is necessary, some consumer advocacy groups say, because it was created solely with the interests of home builders in mind, leaving buyers worse off than before. The law establishing the agency was written by the lawyer for Houston home builder Bob Perry, who gives more Republican campaign contributions than anyone else in Texas. "Builders don't have to do anything differently than before the commission was created," said Janet Ahmad, president of the consumer advocacy group HomeOwners for Better Building. "This is pushing people to lawsuits; that's what the problem is." The current dispute resolution process has no teeth, Ahmad said, because it doesn't require the builder to settle with the buyer if the commission finds in favor of the homeowner.
Home builders resist reconstructing rookie agency

Buyers no better off in resolving disputes, say proponents of strengthening regulator this session


By David Kassabian
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Monday, May 9, 2005

Supporters of a new state agency that regulates home builders say it's too early to address complaints from buyer groups and some lawmakers who claim that the agency favors builders.

The fledgling Texas Residential Construction Commission was created two years ago to provide new performance standards for builders and a formal dispute resolution process between buyers and builders.

A remodeling of the commission is necessary, some consumer advocacy groups say, because it was created solely with the interests of home builders in mind, leaving buyers worse off than before.

The law establishing the agency was written by the lawyer for Houston home builder Bob Perry, who gives more Republican campaign contributions than anyone else in Texas.

"Builders don't have to do anything differently than before the commission was created," said Janet Ahmad, president of the consumer advocacy group HomeOwners for Better Building. "This is pushing people to lawsuits; that's what the problem is."

The current dispute resolution process has no teeth, Ahmad said, because it doesn't require the builder to settle with the buyer if the commission finds in favor of the homeowner. Instead, buyers can use that finding as evidence if they sue home builders.

But builder groups point to the commission's record of finding in favor of the buyer in 94 percent of the disputes it has reviewed since the commission's inception and the creation of the state's first performance standards, scheduled to take effect June 1.

"Before the commission existed, there was not a neutral dispute resolution process in place where homeowners and builders could address alleged defects," said Patrick Fortner, director of communications and legislative affairs for the commission.

Builders and remodelers whose work exceeds $20,000 will be subjected to the new performance standards.

They cover several broad areas, including plumbing, electrical, heating and air-conditioning systems, foundations, major structural components, workmanship and materials.

"Those that would say that this is the same or worse are just way off base," said Scott Norman, general counsel for the Texas Association of Builders. "Let's give this new process time to work. If there's a problem, we can change it next session."

A bill authored by Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, would give the construction commission more regulatory power and the ability to directly discipline builders when judgments are ignored. It also would require builders to prove financial responsibility by keeping a $500,000 bond and to show proof of construction knowledge and practices.

The bill has been heard by the State Affairs Committee. But time is running out for the construction bill to pass committee and allow for debate on the House floor, signaling that it may be unlikely for the measure to move on.

Under current law, if buyers suspect construction defects in a new home or remodeled work, they can send a letter to the builder and to the commission outlining the defects. If the builder doesn't address the concerns within 30 days, the buyer can then begin the commission dispute resolution process.

Homeowners pay the initial inspection fee, which can cost several hundred dollars, and the cost shifts to the builder if the allegations are confirmed.

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http://www.statesman.com/metrostate/content/auto/epaper/editions/monday/metro_state_24f7b0a5c29201250097.html

 
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Reckless Endangerment
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Outsized Ambition, Greed and
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