Star-Telegram Staff Writer
State officials are hailing a new program, scheduled to begin April 1, that could make it easier to identify home builders and remodelers who have worked to achieve good reputations in the business. But at least one consumer activist isn't impressed.
The voluntary Texas Star Builder Program will give builders the opportunity to be praised for their solid business practices on the Texas Residential Construction Commission's Web site.
The commission was created to help settle disputes between home buyers and builders. But critics say that the commission heavily favors builders over buyers.
Duane Waddill, the commission's executive director, says any builder who receives the Star Builder designation has experience and a demonstrated commitment to quality and customer service.
Builders will apply through the commission's Web site. Background checks will search a builder's financial and construction history. Builders have to reapply yearly.
The commission was criticized in January in a scathing report issued by state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn for being "a builder protection agency."
Strayhorn's office initially surveyed 102 homeowners, and she says that builders did not make required repairs even after homeowners' complaints about defects were confirmed as part of a newly required state inspection and resolution process.
Janet Ahmad, president of HomeOwners for Better Building, says of the new program: "Since it is optional, it is meaningless for the consumer. ... My guess is they want to divert some of the attention of the comptroller's report and put a spin on this meaningless optional program."