The typical house contains more than 3,000 different parts. These components must be assembled with skill to form the new product you will call home. Most problems are corrected routinely by the builder. However, if a non-routine problem should arise, you should follow certain procedures to correct the situation.
Identify the exact nature of the problem and gather any documentation to support the issue.
Work with your builder by contacting your builder representative. Builders strive to find a solution.
Review your contract and warranty coverage.
Write a letter documenting the complaint. Many builders require all complaints to be in writing.
Notification Guidelines: Writing a Complaint Letter
Include your name, address, and home and work telephone numbers.
Type your letter if possible.
Keep your letter brief and to the point.
Include all relevant documents regarding the problem.
State exactly what you want to be done and how soon you expect the problem to be resolved.
Use respectful and professional language.
Send copies, not originals. Keep the original copy of the letter for your files.
The Better Business Bureau The Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers complaint mediation and arbitration services that can help solve consumer/business problems. As private non-profit organizations, however, they cannot force a solution on parties to a dispute: BBB of Coastal, Central & Southwest Texas http://austin.bbb.org, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (512)445-2911, Fax: (512)445-2096 1005 La Posada Drive Austin TX 78752
The Office of the Attorney General and Legal Assistance Home owners with unresolved complaints may contact the Office of the Attorney General. The Attorney General’s Consumer Complaint Division has a process to submit complaints. The consumer protection hotline number is (800) 621-0508. If the homeowner is over the age of 60 or eligible for Medicare, the Attorney General offers free legal advice and other legal services. Eligible Texans can call (800) 622-2520.
Federal Trade Commission The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, collects complaints about companies, business practices, identity theft, and other business related issues.
The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection works to protect consumers against unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices in the marketplace. The Bureau conducts investigations, sues companies and people who violate the law, develops rules to protect consumers and educates consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities. Complaints filed with the FTC helps detect patterns of wrong-doing and lead to investigations and prosecutions. The FTC enters all complaints it receives into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database. It should be noted that the FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints.
Small Claims Court If the conflict between a homeowner and home builder or home remodeling contractor involves a contract dispute or allegations of fraud, then the Texas Justice of the Peace system or Municipal Smalls Claims Court may provide relief. These courts have filing fees that are much smaller than district courts, and the proceedings are less formal, with citizens representing themselves. In these courts, consumers may present their side to the judge using any information, documents or witnesses that are relevant. Look in the blue pages of the phone book or contact the city or county for information about these courts. Information can also be found at www.courts.state.tx.us.
The Residential Construction Liability Act For unresolved situations surrounding allegations of a construction defect, the Texas law known as the Residential Construction Liability Act (RCLA – commonly known as “Rec-la”) was established by the Texas Legislature. Generally speaking, RCLA applies to any action to recover from a construction defect except for personal injury, wrongful death or damage to goods. Any party who files a suit under RCLA that is groundless and brought in bad faith or for purposes of harassment is for attorney’s fees and court costs.
A summary of the RCLA process is as follows:
To formally start the RCLA process, the homeowner must give written notice to the contractor specifying in reasonable detail the construction defects of the home 60 days before taking any legal action. On request of the contractor, the homeowner must provide any evidence of the defect such as photos or inspection reports.
The contractor shall have 35 days after receiving the notice to inspect the situation to determine any repairs necessary. A written offer of settlement must be submitted to the homeowner within 45 days of receiving, and if the offer is accepted – make the repairs within 45 days.
The homeowner has the right to refuse the settlement offer or offer to repair, but they must provide details why the offer is being refused. If the offer is refused the contractor may make a supplemental offer. If a homeowner does not permit the contractor to inspect the property or make repairs, then certain restrictions will apply to the homeowner’s ultimate settlement offer.