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The Building, Mechanical and Referenced Standard Codes in Texas

You cannot look up building code sections on this web site nor anywhere else. The International Code Council sells code books or subscription services. For building codes go to ICC building codes and subscribe.

Building Code

IRC R101.3 Purpose - "The purpose of this code is to provide minimum requirements to safeguard life, limb, health and public welfare."

IRC 102.4 Referenced codes and standards - " The codes and standards referenced in this code shall be considered part of the requirements of this code to the prescribed extent of each such reference. Exception: where enforcement of a code provision would violate the conditions of the listing of the equipment or appliance, the condition of the listing and manufacturer's instruction shall apply".

The End for TRCC

July, 2009:

The Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC) will cease to accept new homeowner complaints as of Aug. 31, 2009 and will cease operations on Aug 31, 2010. The agency is being shut down under the state Sunset provision.

The TRCC was created in 2003 after lobbying by some big builders. It was created under the auspice that it was to aid consumers with complaints against builders, however the agency was roundly criticized for protecting builders and making it more difficult for aggrieved consumers to get satisfaction.

Texas will revert back to the pre-TRCC law; the Residential Construction Liability Act, which limited damages homeowners could seek and gave builders the right to repair poor construction.

Now, as much as ever, it's important to protect yourself when purchasing a newly constructed home by getting it thoroughly inspected by a qualified inspector of your choosing, while under construction and prior to closing. Not all inspections are the same.

Code Certification is Voluntary for

Frequently Asked Questions:
Are home builders licensed in Texas?
No. They never have been. Further, the Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC) in its short 5 year life span was shut down by the Texas Legislature in 2009 as not providing an acceptable level of consumer protection in Texas. There was no licensing of builders or remodelers prior to TRCC or during TRCC. TRCC did not "license" or "certify" builders. TRCC was set up as a formal means of mandatory dispute resolution with builders after you closed on a new home or significant remodel.

Do cities enforce the building code?

Cities have a short list of "pet peeves" they look at. Due to budget constraints and time cities do not perform code inspections in a way you think. An inspector may be faced with 50-80 inspections per day. No city does a windstorm inspection. This is left up to the independent design engineer selected by the builder. The builder is the customer of the city. If homes are built then the city reaps the benefit of property tax dollars and an increase in sales tax dollars.

My builder has 3rd party inspections performed. What does that mean?

The 3rd party builder inspections gained footing as a marketing gimmick around 1994 in order for a builder to tell you they have 3rd party inspections performed. The inspections might be questionable but the inspection stickers some these guys place on homes look pretty. Generally the builder determines what the 3rd party inspector looks at and nothing more and the 3rd party inspector has no power. Our opinion based on many inspections behind these types of inspections is that they are fruitless and offer no value to the buyer. The 3rd party inspector is in no way responsible to the buyer and cannot circumvent experience and training of the superintendents which appears to be lacking (or why do you need a 3rd party?).

Remember, our clients that have us inspect for them can instantly see from their inspection reports how lacking the 3rd party builder inspection process is. We view 3rd party builder inspections as a gimmick as some sales people overstate the nature of these types of inspections leading you to believe that some level of quality and enforcement is involved. A builder probably should not rely on these types of limited inspections. Ongoing training programs, education and experienced personnel should be the basis of project management. It is also questionable as to whether these 3rd party builder inspectors are licensed to perform inspections in Texas and whether they are individually code certified in lieu of having only one person out of many in a production inspection business. Once you realize that cities and 3rd party builder inspectors can perform up to 50-80 inspections a day you have to ask yourself what level of inspection are they performing. The 3rd party builder inspectors
serve at the pleasure of the builder.

thought homes are built to building codes?

n order to save time - Yes and NO. Probably 30% - 40% of a home meets the building code in its literal interpretation. In the real world no home has ever been or will ever be built to the building codes. That's why 3rd party independent inspections are important but they too can be limited. The hardest part is finding a qualified 3rd party independent inspector that is experienced. Inspector licensing in Texas migh not assure you of qualifications, experience and knowledge any more than the superintendent building your house. This brings up another issue we have heard time and time again. It's not your home until you close on it. The home built is what your builder is selling you. There is typically nothing in writing in any sales contract that states that the home will meet the building codes so there is no contractual agreement to do so.

Do real estate inspectors do code inspections?

No. Code inspections must start with a set of plans and specifications which are not available. A real estate inspector may refer to codification based on the state standards he or she is following but in the real world your builder, in the literal sense cannot build a home to exacting code standards.

hate my building superintendent. What do I do?

Hate is a strong word and generally implies a personality conflict happened or you didn't get what you wanted or expected. Ask for a meeting with the builder about any concerns you have. Always keep documentation and keep climbing the corporate ladder until you feel that your concerns are adequately addressed. By the way, you are not alone. Private conversations with cities, architects, engineers, subcontractors, and other inspectors generally lead to the same kind of complaint and discussion. The lack of qualified superintendents is a great concern to the industry but the industry generally doesn't want to pay for experience. The experienced superintendents either leave or start their own home building company. You can see that in the want-ads of the employment section of your area newspaper. If a TRCC dispute resolution inspector has to have a minimum 5-years home building experience and a architect or engineer has to have 10-years experience don't you think that the superintendent building your home should have the same? The turnover rate of building superintendents is typically high in production building.

Who is a good or bad builder?
Opinions on that are not for comment because we do inspections which have nothing to do with personal opinions or legal advice. If there was an avenue for answering that question you will first need to change the libel laws in this country. That is information that you have to research out by yourself by knocking on doors, asking friends and neighbors, your buyers agent, contacting the Better Business Bureau and web sites. However, if there was such a thing as a good or bad builder it would generally be reflected in the cost of the inspection fee. More work, more time, more research requires more fee in any business or you don't get the service. Inspection fees are not the same as homes are not homogeneous and reflect the amount of expected work to be involved based on experience. If inspection fees were based on the sales price percentage that sales agents get then all bases would be covered. Trades and subcontractors are beaten down in price to a point to potentially affect quality and workmanship. Some trades may not want to work for certain builders for various reasons. Do you want to do the same for the inspection?

Who is a good inspector?
Again, wrong question. Each inspector is a individual with different levels of experience, desire, knowledge and training. Inspectors are not homogeneous in any sense. Honestly, one is simply on the wrong planet to believe otherwise.

You should first ask yourself what kind of inspector do you want and how much experience is wanted along with any certifications. Having a minimal standard license does not guarantee qualifications or experience. You also don't know if you are selecting a volume inspector that schedules many inspections in one day which makes the site visit and inspection limited. It's recommended that you hire someone that knows more about single-family dwellings than your builder or the average inspector. If you think about it, people that perform inspections are independents that do not have a referral network, have not seen others inspection reports or been on a inspection with another inspector. There is no memorandum, class, meetings, organization or faculty that happens for that question to be answered. Basically, you are on your own in selecting your inspector as much as your home builder or resale property. In short, people in the inspection industry don't work with each other in the same sense that builders don't work with builders. However, Realtors work with Realtors because there is a referral fee involved based on a expected commission if the deal closes. Chosing an inspector from a real estate sales agent list may be suspect. That might be called "steering" which could be a potential "negligent referral".

Limited Statutory Warranty and Building

Texas Bldg. Codes

There is no different city or county building code. The building code in every square inch in Texas
is the:

International Building Code,
International Residential Code,
International Plumbing Code,
International Mechanical Code,
International Fuel Gas Code,
International Property Maintenance Code,
International Fire Code,
National Electric Code

Written Referenced Standards - AAMA, ASTM, ANSI, UL, many others
*The IRC Electrical Code is specifically excluded by legislative mandate. The National Electric Code is to be used.
indstorm Areas of Texas - IRC

Soil Maps - Expansive Soils in Texas

What is a building code?

State Law - Texas Bldg Code for all municipalities (SB365) from Texas House web site.

State Law - Texas Energy Code (effective Sept. 1, 2001 in counties of Texas)

The National Electric Code

The Repair, Alteration, Remodel Code is same as the building code

Note: Counties in Texas do not have building inspectors so there are no municipal inspections in the unincorporated areas except by a private fee-paid inspector hired by the builder. These builders private fee paid inspectors are not audited or supervised.

Home Inspections since 1989; New
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