Let me preface this entire thing by saying that I'm not a lawyer. This blog post is not intended to be legal advice. This blog post is intended to make you aware of the Texas Residential Construction Liability Act (even though your builder probably provided you with a hint of information about it in that packet you probably never looked at) and share my journey to getting reimbursed for failures in my wood floor due to poor installation after the builder denied our original requests to replace it.
I'm going to try to make a really long story short. From the day we moved into our brand new home, we had issues with our upgraded engineered hardwood floors. Boards were popping, delaminating, and chipping. The builder kept sending the contractor out to repair more and more and more and more and finally my husband was just done. We wanted it all replaced. These issue were happening because of poor prep and installation and after some research we were convinced the actual product may have also been faulty. Our builder want to keep polishing a turd and told us they would not be replacing the floor. They said it was normal to replace 50+ boards in a 900 square ft. area.
Guess what home builder, not buying it. We called in a certified wood floor inspector at our expense. He identified more issues than we originally knew about. We still had a builder that didn't want to work with use to replace the floor and they made it very clear that they would not be reimbursing me for the cost of the inspector ($300).
The Texas Residential Contruction Liability Act (RCLA)
I got out my home warranty manual and found this very small and limited section referring to the Texas Residential Construction Liability Act and decided I needed to google it. It's confusing at first, but what I found out is that if I ever wanted to take them to court, I needed to first send them a certified letter referencing the RCLA. This is how you say attorney without actually saying attorney. When they get this letter from you they know you are getting your ducks in a row to take them to court or you're at least thinking about it.
The RCLA outlines statutory deadlines for responding, inspecting the home, the builder making some sort of offer and you either accepting or denying the offer. You have to go through this process before you can take them to court. Hopefully you never make it that far. The purpose of the RCLA is to resolve issues without a lawsuit.
In our letter I mentioned the Texas RCLA, gave a quick run down of all of the issues with our floor, and attached the report from the certified wood floor inspector. I also listed a few scenarios we would be willing to accept for resolution.
Did we want to sue our builder? Not really. I'm not sure anyone wins when that happens, but we were at the point where we would do what we needed to do and we were tired of being taken advantage of. I totally would have done it purely on principle.
All of the sudden these folks who had been legit ignoring our phone calls and emails for at least a month, if not two, were quick to respond. Or at least as quick as they can be because when you send one of these letters, it immediately goes to an attorney working for the builder.
It still took us months of negotiation to get what we wanted, but we got it. Referencing the Texas Residential Construction Liability Act was the key to getting our builder to stop pushing us off and actually work with us to come to a resolution that was fair. They're still going to try to get away with giving as little as possible, but as long as you have a legitimate issue with your home (which we made damn sure of before sending this letter) you have the upper hand. They don't want to go to court. They're trying to get out as cheap as possible and writing me a check for the amount it would cost me to replace my floor (including removal and a $300 reimbursement for hiring that wood floor inspector) is still cheaper than going to court.