**Inspections Will Be Required For Rural Home Construction **
Reporter: By Megan Fleetwood
(July 28, 2008—Effective Sept. 1, inspections will be required for homes under construction in unincorporated areas of the state under a new law that requires separate independent inspections of foundations, framing and completed residential structures.
Attorney Stephen Polozola, who discussed the new law with a group of about 70 people Wednesday at the Heart of Texas Builders Association office in Waco, said the change is the result of House Bill 1038, which was intended to give “more teeth” to the Texas Residential Construction Commission.
Polozola estimates each inspection will about $300, which will add close to $1,000 to the cost of a new house in an unincorporated area.
Inspectors will check new homes against existing state codes and the codes in effect in county seats, which means, for example, that homes in rural McLennan County would be subject to City of Waco building code requirements.
Builders are responsible for hiring the inspectors, who must be certified architects or engineers, Texas Real Estate Commission inspectors, or Texas Residential Construction Commission inspectors.
If you read the actual law wording, analyze this program and actually think about it, it is just another “Feel Good” piece of legislation that will lull the consumer into thinking they are being protected. What it actually is, just another “Builder Friendly” piece of legislation that can, and most likely will, screw the consumer.
The state did not mandate a fee schedule such as they did with the TRCC SIRP program. The builders are free to pick and choose the cheapest Inspector they want. Additionally, due to the construction of the program, if the builder does not like your inspection report they are free not to pay you (you have to chase them for the fee with no help from the state of Texas). They can also cycle through Inspectors until they find one that will pass that phase being inspected.
Instead of using a “Round Robin” pool of Inspectors the builder gets to choose the Inspector. See above comments.
Ask yourself, when was the last time builders asked to be legislated with additional requirements, scrutiny and expenses that they must pass on to the home buyer or absorb out of their profits. This statement here should be a tip-off to what this legislation is all about.
The way the program is established, yes the builder will be required to correct code deficiencies but do not necessarily have to. Unlike AHJ’s there is no record of failed inspections kept at any level of government. The only thing that TRCC wants to hear and be recorded with them, by the Inspector, is when that inspection phase passes. There are no procedures in place, nor does TRCC want to hear, if an Inspector even discovers that a builder has been cycling through other Inspectors until one passes that phase.
As it stands now, the Inspector will be held responsible if they did miss some code item, regardless of how small it may have been. If a complaint is filed and TRCC sends out a SIRP Inspector who verifies you missed a code item then TRCC will be reporting this failure to TREC for potential disciplanary action as well as any they have in store.
The second reference above is only a short notice that the law has been passed and the results of it. If you check the TAC at http://trcc.state.tx.us/policy/resources/Chapter307Rules.pdf you will see that Section 307 is still not available to the public. I asked TRCC about this a week or so ago and they said they should have it out in August. The law was passed in September 2007. Why is it taking it a year to add to the TAC public view?
This is a new program for any area that does not have a municiple building department with Building Code Inspectors. A quarter mile East of me the builders are able to throw up any kind of home they want with little to no oversight by Building Code Officials, building inspections, etc. I wanted to build my home a quarter mile East until I learned that little doozie!
The new law requires a minimum of three phases of inspection; pre-pour, pre-sheetrock and final walk through. This lawyer is blowing smoke on the cost of these inspections as it will be the builder who negotiates the price. Unfortunately, in this area at least, we have Inspectors who will drive 250 miles round trip to perform a pre-sheetrock inspection for $150 on a 5000 Sq. Ft. home. Do you think that inspection is going to be performed properly?
Yes, the Inspector performing the inspection will be required to cite all building codes applicable to where the home is being built. This is a “Full” building code inspection for the eventual purpose of issuing a Certificate Of Occupancy for the home.
Texas Inspectors should note that your mandatory E&O policy may not cover code inspections as most disclaim any “Code” claim by a buyer. According to TRCC you are not an Agent of the state, official building code inspector, quasi-code inspector, etc., etc. What you are is an independent Inspector performing a full code inspection for a fee and subject to the wrath of any party that wants to take you to task. YOU HAVE NO PROTECTION UNDER IRC PART I, CHAPTER 1, SECTION R104.8 WHICH PROTECTS MUNICIPAL CODE INSPECTORS FROM ANY LIABILITY IN THE EVENT OF AN ERROR OR OMISSION DURING ANY OF THEIR RELATED DUTIES!
I doubt if the final inspection will be anything like what we do or the TREC SOP.
It will probably be like the ones around here by the county, consisting of making sure basic safety items are done, at least one means of egress, breakers labled, no uncapped ceiling boxes, walls covered with sheetrock or tile, working bathroom, hot water and a few other items, basically a 5-10 minute inspection. I have watched some done in about 90 seconds!
The wording has not changed from 2000 IRC which is the adopted code for Texas. Individual municipalities may use later versions and more restrictive language.
Naturally any jurisdiction can feed the Building Code official to the wolves if they so choose to. However, it does not happen often as they would certainly have a difficult time filling positions if they did. Texas is not unlike other areas with BCO’s being overworked and some not even concerned about performing a proper job. If you would like an example just go to our own board and a recent post: http://www.nachi.org/forum/showthread.php?t=31287
Cypress, TX is in the Haris County jurisdiction. I am unable to find any residential building codes for Harris County as a whole and would suspect they fall under this new TRCC inspection program.
The inspection is to check that ALL applicable codes are being followed for ALL aspects of the home. Unfortunately you are correct that many times the Inspector will perform a 10 minute inspection and be out of there. Many issues, once covered over, may not be known for years until an issue arises.
How many municipal Inspectors even check for all of the items TRCC is requiring? With a few exceptions, municipal Inspectors check what is currently there for violations. They don’t perform all of the other required items by TRCC.
The second reference is to the SIRP Inspectors which are TRCC third party, post construction defect inspectors. The requirements for this new program are still not in TAC but the following document describes it in more detail.