Your situation may be governed by the Texas Residential Construction Liability Act (RCLA)? What is the RCLA? The RCLA is designed to promote settlement disputes between the homeowner and construction business owner. However, it does not normally apply to trades, suppliers, or design professionals. It mostly applies to builders. The RCLA apply to any action to recover damages arising from a construction defect, except a claim for personal injury, survival, wrongful death, or damage to goods claims.
You may ask yourself: how do I define a construction defect? According to Texas Property Code: A construction defect is a matter concerning the design, construction, or repair of a new residence, of an alteration of or repair or addition to an existing residence, or of an appurtenance to a residence, on which a person has a complaint against a contractor. However, because the definition is broadly defined, builders are not liable for a construction defect claim that is caused by: (1) Damages caused by a person other than the builder, an agent, subcontractor, supplier of the builder or the builders’ employees. (2) Damages caused by a homeowner who fail to take responsibility or take reasonable action to maintain the property. (3) Problems that arise from inaccurate official records. (4) Normal wear, tear, or deterioration.
Texas allows the builder to offer a settlement to the homeowner. The builder has 45 days after receiving the RCLA letter to make a written settlement offer. However, the homeowner has only 25 days to accept or reject the offer letter. If the homeowner rejects the offer, the builder has 10 days to respond with a counteroffer or the homeowner may choose to initiate a lawsuit. In the event of a lawsuit filed, the builder may be liable for the cost of damages, engineering and a drop in current market value, the cost of housing, consulting fees and attorney’s fees.
Although the RCLA is only for residential construction defects, we may assist in commercial construction defects. If you are a homeowner and believe that you have a RCLA claim or are a builder and need legal representation, we invite you to contact us to speak to a board-certified real estate attorney. Also, you can call us at (713) 572-4900.