A major war is being fought between Texas home buyers, builders, and contractors. If you think my description is an exaggeration – think again because as a Texas Construction Defect Attorney, I am on the front line, and have been so for decades. It’s really nasty out there as reported by my clients’ time and time again.
The facts are almost identical. Our clients have the best intentions in searching for a reputable homebuilder to construct the personal residence of their dreams. They usually limit their search to the internet and particularly Facebook which presents scant information and dubious customer reviews which are often faked. A call is made followed by what appears to be a genuine response, personal meeting, and construction proposal often in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The builder whether a small operation or large corporation is all smiles and eager to take your hard-earned dollars. Although this is likely the most expensive undertaking ever encountered by the home buyers, they almost always accept the word of the builder and rarely have a lawyer look over the construction contract.
Then things go wrong and very fast. Here is a list of typical horrors:
- Builder immediately violates building contract by starting construction late causing major delays.
- Inexperienced contractors are brought in to save money for the contractor and cause damage to your new home.
- The property is improperly leveled leaving the surface uneven and unfit for construction.
- The framing is incorrectly constructed and veers from the building plans.
- The concrete is poured incorrectly, is not properly constituted, or installed during inclement weather which causes it to crack.
- The rooms are improperly constructed leading to the bowing of walls or incorrect dimensions.
- Floors are poorly constructed which is further exacerbated by an uneven surface. Cracks first appear in the garage and then through the first floor of the residence due to the defects in the foundation.
- The installation of the plumbing is a total nightmare. The bathroom toilet on the second-floor leaks through the floor and causes damage throughout the entire home.
- The electrical outlets are installed in the wrong areas and violate code. There is a real chance of fire or electrocution.
- The wrong woodwork is selected by the builder to save money in violation of the building contract.
- The cabinets when finally installed are scratched and damaged in the process.
- The builder uses shoddy materials in laying bricks at exterior of home. The presentation is atrocious.
- The first storm results in water stains appearing underneath the roof. Further investigation reveals that the roof was improperly constructed and needs to be gutted and replaced.
- The uneven surface outside the property causes a hazard to the new homeowners, their guests, and leads to pockets of water and flooding during the first storm. The sprinkler system is damaged in the process.
And this is just the beginning. Typically, our clients attempt to engage the rogue builder in an intelligent and gracious discussion to resolve the defects. Invariably it goes nowhere as the builder has lost interest and moved on to the next project and victim. It is quite common for the builder when confronted to turn on the damaged homeowner by blaming them for the errors. Women are often treated in a condescending and aggressive manner.
When all else fails, our potential clients finally tell it like it is and an argument ensues which goes absolutely nowhere. The builder may attempt a quick fix which almost never works.
Finally, the builder threatens the client with a lawsuit and maintains that the contract was complied with in every respect which is almost always a total lie.
The homeowner is left distraught, victimized, and seemingly without any remedies or recourse.
Well – think again. This is where a homebuilder fraud attorney with experience in Texas construction law is needed.
There are numerous remedies available to homeowners under Texas law and it starts with a state law that almost no one ever heard of – the Residential Construction Liability Act or RCLA. Although proposed by the homebuilder lobby, the RCLA is actually helpful in resolving the disputes with homebuilders. Critically, the RCLA requires that a proper notice of the defects be disseminated via certified mail to the builder prior to the potential initiation of litigation which is barred for a period of sixty days. Deadlines in the RCLA govern when the builders’ response to the first demand letter is due, the scheduling of an inspection, and settlement offers between the parties.
The conundrum here is that if the homeowner fails to follow the deadlines, the ability to recover damages against the homebuilder will be severely restricted and limited. Consequently, uninformed homeowners routinely destroy their case against rogue builders by simply failing to follow the rules of the RCLA. It happens all the time.
The solution is to consult with an experience Construction Defect Attorney when the first problem arises. Do not delay. Getting an immediate handle on the problems will increase the likelihood of a positive resolution. If you currently don’t have this problem but our thinking about building a new home in Texas – read about why its important to get your builder’s contract reviewed by a construction law attorney.
The RCLA back and forth communication process between customer and builder if done correctly can facilitate an amicable resolution. Towards that end, many of these rogue builders will not take our clients seriously until they “lawyer up”. In my opinion, if you fail to get aggressive at inception, you are likely to lose or face increased legal costs along the way.
When dealing with a larger construction company, it is advantageous to bring in counsel who has likely dealt with their attorneys before. This will allow for better communication and a potential early resolution before things go very bad.
A smaller construction company almost always presents major problems at they are undercapitalized and have minimal insurance under Texas law. They will invariably dodge and hide the ball. Their credo is to be unaccountable and sting the next customer. The best recommendation here is to avoid small construction companies like the plague.
Of course, that is not to say that a large construction company is a panacea. It is not as we have major cases in the firm against a few rogue larger builders. That said, our chances are better if we are dealing with a larger company with greater resources and a statewide reputation to worry about.
Keep in mind that the information above and your remedies similarly applies to contractors providing home renovation services.
Get legal advice before signing any construction contract. If you have already been stung, seek the advice of an experienced Construction Defect Attorney immediately.
At the Moster Law Firm, we have the experience and aggressiveness necessary to fight your battle. Give us a call for a complimentary consultation.