4 Tips to Deal with Texas Building Laws and Regulations
Once you have a clear image in your mind of how you want the kitchen of your dreams to look like, you’ll probably feel like you just can’t wait to make it a reality and will either call the contractor or go grab your toolbox right away. Well, that motivation is fantastic, but you might want to slow down for a bit if you don’t want to break some very important codes and laws that Texas has about building and remodeling a house.
This is a complex subject to wrap your head around, (you just want to have a nice kitchen, after all!), but doing things the right –and legal– is always the best option in the long run.
You have to protect yourself against contractors
We want to start off this entry by saying that no, it’s not that all Texas contractors are unscrupulous and untrustworthy, just that if you happen to have one work on your house, then you should know a few things. First of all, the state of Texas does not issue general contractors licenses, and the different municipalities regulate that instead. What this means is that Texas law can do very little (if anything) to help you if a problem arises because it does not hold contractors accountable, so consumers are often left without legal recourse to do much about it.
It’s not that common that people run into legal troubles with their contractors, but there are a couple of problems that seem a little more common than others. The first one is that, under Texas law, a subcontractor who doesn’t get paid can place a lien on the property, passing the problem unto you, so if you already paid the general contractor for what you thought was the full price, you’ll now have to pay the subcontractor out of pocket. Again, most Texas contractor are likely to be law-abiding citizens and workers, just be wary of a few bad apples.
Read the residential checklist that applies to you
Texas has several state laws and regulations for buildings and general construction, but don’t forget that each county and municipality will have their own as well. Your contractor will probably know how to clear for permits and where to call for an inspection, but it’s important that you know the checklist beforehand so you can talk to them about the scope of your project, decide what’s possible and what would be a violation, and other similar situations.
For example, look at this checklist from Travis County; as you can see, it’s a pretty thorough breakdown of each and every way a construction project can impact its surroundings, and that’s what the inspector will be checking when they visit your house. If you already know what they’ll be looking for, you’re on the fast lane towards approval.
Know how and where to get a permit
Under Texas law (and indeed in most states) you’ll need a permit for any construction, demolition, or any other structural change to your house, including projects like a new deck or pool, plus everything that would require electrical, plumbing or mechanical work. Remember that all permits must be cleared before you can begin construction, or you’ll be facing some ugly fines, and your project will be halted. If you need more guidance, your local Building Department will surely have the answers.
The required documents needed for each permit will obviously be different depending on your city, but they generally include these:
- Property address
- A full description of the work you’re doing
- All the contact information on the people working on your project
- Contact information and name of the property’s owner
- Type and full description of the work
- The full valuation of the project (you might need your contractor’s help for this one)
Get a professional to help you out
Navigating through the endless red tape that sometimes comes out of a simple remodeling project is time-consuming and stressful, that much is for sure. We’re not saying that you should deal with it all on your own, just that getting your feet wet on the subject will help you make better, well-informed decisions all through the project. For example, only worry about finding the Houston, TX building code if you live in Houston, and don’t fret about finding other guidelines.
That being said, there’s nothing wrong with getting some outside assistance (it’s actually encouraged) since the sheer amount of paperwork can be overwhelming. Most professional, well-established contractors know how to deal with the codes and regulations, as well as getting all the permits in order; so if you trust yours, by all means let them support you. You can also check if your local area has any sort of organization dedicated to helping homeowners deal with these situations.
You might be a little discouraged after reading all of this about Texas home inspection checklists and to protect yourself from contractors, but trust us, this is not as bad as it sounds. All we are saying is that being careful and getting some knowledge of the situation you’re in will help you avoid some headaches if a problem arises further down the road. All we want for you is to have the house of your dreams become a reality; it’s what we do!