Suing Your Home Builder for Shoddy Workmanship?
What the law provides in TexasBy Super Lawyers staff | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on May 4, 2023 Featuring practical insights from contributing attorney Jacob D. Thomas
Use these links to jump to different sections:
- How To Hold a Builder Liable for Poor Workmanship
- Construction Defect Claims are Subject To Strict Deadlines
Whether you are building a brand new home or undertaking major renovations, you will be required to put a tremendous amount of faith into the hands of a construction company. Unfortunately, in far too many cases, contractors can fail to live up to their end of the bargain; in turn, poor workmanship and construction defects cause serious problems.
As stressful and frustrating as dealing with a construction defect is for a homeowner, there are legal options available. Yes, negligent construction companies can be held liable for property defects.
How To Hold a Builder Liable for Poor Workmanship
Under the Texas Residential Construction Liability Act (RCLA), home builders can be held legally liable for damage caused by shoddy workmanship or construction defects. The RCLA provides very important legal protections to homeowners, property owners and real estate developers. Among other things, it gives them the right to sue for poor workmanship on a construction project.
“Anytime a potential client calls me that has anything to do with residential construction, it’s the first thing I consider,” says Jacob D. Thomas, a construction litigation attorney at Saunders, Walsh & Beard in McKinney.
“It’s the carrot and the stick. From the contractor’s perspective, it’s supposed to prevent people from running to the courthouse and filing a lawsuit. It gives the contractor an opportunity to inspect and make an offer of settlement. For the homeowner, if the contractor is a stand-up guy and is going to follow the law, it gives them a basis on which to communicate. It benefits both parties.”
The RCLA establishes a number of different procedural requirements that plaintiffs must meet prior to initiating a defect construction claim. Before a Texas homeowner or other party can file a lawsuit against a contractor under the RCLA, they must give the defendant (the construction contractor) at least 60-days’ notice.
After receiving an official construction defect notice, the responsible contractor will then have 35 days to conduct an inspection of a homeowner’s property. And after completing their inspection, they can make a written settlement offer to the homeowner. A settlement could include an agreement to conduct repairs, financial compensation, or some combination of both. However, if no agreement can be reached, the homeowner will then have the right to file a lawsuit.
“I’m of the opinion that the RCLA is actually quite beneficial for the homeowner,” says Thomas. “It very clearly sets out what kind of efforts need to be taken in advance, what needs to be in the demand letter, how it needs to be sent to the contractor. It creates a map to guide you through the initial process.”
Construction Defect Claims are Subject To Strict Deadlines
If you discovered a possible construction defect in your home, it is imperative that you take immediate action to protect your rights. The sooner you discuss your legal claim with a Texas construction law attorney, the better off you will be.
One of the most challenging things about construction defect claims is navigating the filing deadlines. In most cases, construction defects are not obvious to the naked eye. It is often years before a homeowner even has a chance to recognize the problem.
In Texas, plaintiffs must deal with both the statute of limitations and the statute of repose. Under the statute of repose, all construction defect claims in Texas must be filed within ten years of the date that the work was ‘substantially completed’. However, that is not the only relevant legal deadline. The statute of limitations also requires Texas homeowners to file a poor workmanship claim within two years of the date that they knew or should have known about the defect.
For more information on legal issues related to construction defect claims, construction defect lawsuits, construction contracts, construction warranty and breach of contract information, and construction attorneys, see our construction litigation overview.
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