Residential Commission on Jan. 12 adopted a set of standards
that will for the first time in Texas detail how
the components of a newly built home should perform under warranty.
Faculty from the Department of Construction Science at Texas A&M's
College of Architecture assisted with the development and review
of the new standards.
I believe the commission chose us to create the standards
because A&M has a reputation for having the largest and most
comprehensive construction science department in the state,
said Joe Horlen, assistant professor of construction science and
co-principal investigator for the project, which was funded by
a $45,000 grant from the commission.
The TRCC is a relatively new state agency created by the 78th
Legislature to provide a neutral dispute resolution process for
Texas homeowners and the residential construction industry. The
commission also provides ongoing education for homeowners and
builders. House Bill 730, which established the commission, requires
Texas homebuilders and remodelers to register with the state,
mandates the registration of new homes and renovation projects
exceeding $20,000, and provides for the adoption of limited warranties
to which the new performance standards will be applied.
The rules on warranties and building and performance standards
will apply to home builders and remodelers who do interior renovations
exceeding $20,000 or that change the size of the home's living
space and will be effective for construction that begins after
June 1, 2005. The warranties will be one year for workmanship
and materials; two years for plumbing, electrical, heating and
air conditioning delivery systems and 10 years for major structural
components of the home.
These landmark standards are key to the Texas Residential
Construction Commission's goal for all home buyers in our state
to be satisfied, confident homeowners, said Stephen Thomas,
executive director of the commission. Homeowners will know
what performance to expect from their new home or remodeling project,
while builders will be able to both assure and improve the quality
These standards are also important,he continued,
because they will be applied by the Texas Residential Construction
Commission when it considers disputes between the two parties
under the new state-sponsored inspection and dispute resolution
In developing the standards, Horlen said the A&M team examined
existing guidelines, including those established by the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development and the International Residential
Code. They also analyzed complaints filed with the TRCC to identify
areas that were not covered or in need of improvement.
This has been a great opportunity for the Department of
Construction Science to showcase its relevance, expertise and
dedication to the construction industry, said, Debra Ellis,
a department lecturer who served with Horlen as co-principal investigator
on the A&M residential standards team. I believe these
standards will give homeowners a sense of security, that their
biggest lifetime investment is protected by regulations intended
to address, if not preempt, problems typically seen in residential
Other construction science faculty playing an integral role in
the standards project were John Bryant, who examined plumbing,
heating, air conditioning and ventilation system requirements,
and Skip Coody, who worked on structural components guidelines.
One graduate and four undergraduate students also contributed
to the project.
In addition to the residential standards initiative, the TRCC
awarded the A&M team with a $30,000 grant to develop a checklist
and maintenance manual for homeowners that, Horlen said, will
ultimately be assessable online through an interactive Web site.
The A&M team has also submitted a proposal to the TRCC for
developing certification procedures for the agency's continuing
education and certification courses.
The relationship between the construction science department
and the TRCC has been mutually beneficial and it appears that
it will continue for some time, Horlen said. The research
we have performed is directly in line with the classes we teach
and it complements my research agenda. At the same time, we are
providing a valuable service to the state of Texas.