The Residential Construction Liability Act (RCLA) is the primary governing statute in residential construction law. The RCLA’s main purpose is to give notice of a homeowner’s complaint to a builder and to allow the builder to make an offer of settlement.
Sending a Notice Letter
If a homeowner believes that there might have been a construction defect, then the homeowner can request damages from the builder under §27.004(a). This provision further requires that the homeowner alert the construction company of the defect before initiating litigation.
The RCLA notice requirements mandates that the homeowner give 60 days written notice, via certified mail, return receipt requested, and outline in the letter all of their complaints about defective construction to the contractor. The notice must specify the construction defects complained of in “reasonable detail,” and must be sent to the contractor’s “last known address.”
Providing an Opportunity to Inspect
After a contractor receives the notice letter from the homeowner, then in response, they may request in writing, an inspection within 35 days of receiving the letter. This opportunity to inspect the alleged construction defect is important to determine what the extent of repairs might be to correct the issue.
A homeowner, after receiving the request from the contractor, should provide the contractor an opportunity to view the defect within a reasonable amount of time. The homeowner is also required to allow the contractor to document the defect by reasonable measure like taking pictures or videos.
Reviewing and Accepting the Written Settlement Offer
Under the RCLA, the contractor has 45 days from the date the notice was given to make a written offer of settlement. The offer to settle the claim should include an agreement by the contractor to repair the defect or to cover the expense of having another contractor correct the issue. The settlement offer must include information relating to the defect, its repair, and any consequences that might arise from either.
Additionally, if the homeowner agrees to the terms of the proposed settlement agreement, then the repairs must be completed within 45 days of the homeowner’s acceptance of the settlement unless there are factors outside the parties’ control.
Once the homeowner has received the offer, then he or she must respond in writing within 25 days as to whether or not they accept the proposed terms. If the homeowner rejects the settlement, then the contractor is allowed to make a counteroffer within 10 days.
If a settlement offer cannot be agreed upon by both parties, then the case will progress to litigation or arbitration. When moving forward with a claim of defect, it is important to consult with a skilled construction litigation attorney who understands the nuances of the laws that would affect your case.
Contacting an Attorney
This outline of the Residential Construction Liability Act and the Texas Residential Construction Commission are intended to serve as a basic introduction to this statute. If you have additional questions or are currently involved in a dispute under this law, contacting an attorney can be helpful. The lawyers and staff at Bennett, Weston, LaJone & Turner, P.C., in Dallas, Texas, have extensive experience in construction defect matters and can offer expert counsel and assistance. Contact us today.