Struggling Texas Builders Face Even Tougher Regulatory Mandates in 2009
At its meeting in December, 2008, the Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC) approved the so-called “Penalty Matrix” as a disciplinary guideline for builders and remodelers that fail to conduct County Inspections at the appropriate stages of construction.
This guideline requires that first time offenders get a warning instead of a fine. A second offense will cost a builder $5,000.00 per project. Offend a third time, and a builder can be subject to a $10,000.00 fine per project along with registration revocation.
Starting September 1, 2008, The Texas Residential Construction Commission began requiring a minimum of three separate construction progress inspections for all homes built or remodeled in unincorporated areas or in cities that do not offer municipal inspections.
The inspections include a foundation inspection before concrete is poured, a framing and mechanical systems assessment before wallboard is installed, and a final sign-off after the entire job is done.
The qualified fee inspector hired by the builder or remodeler may be a licensed engineer, a registered architect, a professional Texas Real Estate Commission inspector or a third-party inspector certified by the Texas Residential Construction Commission.
Builders and remodelers were asked by the TRCC to begin contacting inspectors in September 2008 to arrange inspections and assure inspector availability.
Many builders complain that it’s becoming increasingly difficult in today’s economy to make even a modest living building homes for paper thin profits and for a dwindling supply of qualified buyers. “It’s no wonder that any hard working small business pushes more paper than profits these days. Plus, the rules seem to change, and not staying on top of them can cost you a bundle”, says a former Texas based builder.
Suffice it to say that building is a tough business in Texas, and many industry professionals believe that 2009 will be no exception. “The state regulatory requirements enacted in 2008 will push some small builders over the edge this year. It’s unfortunate, but it looks like more Texas builders will be standing instead of sitting when the music stops at the start of 2010.”
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For more information about the county inspections program, or to access a list of fee inspectors registered with the commission, go to www.texasrcc.org.