Shrinking New Home Warranties
TEXAS HOUSE BILL 2024
AND THE EVER-SHRINKING HOMEBUILDER WARRANTIES
I have written on my texasinspector.com website blog numerous times about the near-worthless warranties offered by Texas homebuilders. Thanks to Texas House Bill 2024, on September 1, 2023, I will now have less to write about. The barking-mad buffoons in the Texas Legislature were successfully lobbied by the Texas Builders Association and their insurers into lowering the 10-year maximum structural warranty to 6 years. There must have been some big money changing hands to get a whopping 40% reduction in consumer protection. Ya' think?
It has been a slow-moving coup. We went from having an implied warranty of good workmanship (remember that?) and habitability back in 2000 to express warranties of 1-2-10 years, and now to 1-2-6 years. Given the philosophies embraced by the ruling party in Austin, I give it another 5 years before we are down to a 1-2-3 express warranty. Another 10 years, and they'll be like the warranties on the appliance the builders install - 365 days.
The bright side, if there is one, is that the express warranties never actually warranted much anyway. So, homebuyers have not lost a whole lot—just 40% of disingenuous, empty promises.
I am reminding those of you who are about to sign on the dotted line with an unlicensed, unregulated Texas builder to have them build your new house that you have literally no protection from the unconscionable building practices that prevail here.
Get a copy of the warranty before you buy. Read the exclusions. These warranties consist mostly of exclusions. Important exclusions. For example, they do not cover building code violations. Since the building codes are the MINIMAL standards, one might presume that the warranties would insist on ensuring compliance with them. That is not the case.
If you do not have your house independently inspected during the construction process for code compliance, who will ensure that compliance? Your builder certainly will not. The municipal inspectors will not. The Texas Legislature will definitely not. The Texas Attorney General cannot - he's been put on indefinite leave due to alleged corruption. You'll be screwed. Self-screwed, not to put too fine a point on it.