Texas Bill Introduces Criminal Offenses Into Building Code Arena

texas adds criminal penalties to building codes

Texas builders support HB 2040 because of concerns about lawsuits and bad publicity brought on by less reputable contractors.

Back in mid-June, HB 2040 passed both chambers of the Texas legislature (including the Senate) and was signed into law by the Governor. This bill introduces criminal offenses into the code arena, and mainly pertains to homes built in the unincorporated areas of counties.

Quoting directly from the statute:
“If proper notice is not submitted in accordance with Sections 233.154 (b) and (c), the county may take any or all of the following actions:
(1) refer the inspector to the appropriate regulatory authority for discipline;
(2) in a suit brought by the appropriate attorney representing the county in the district court, obtain appropriate injunctive relief to prevent a violation or threatened violation of a standard or notice required under this subchapter from continuing or occurring; or
(3) refer the builder for prosecution under Section 233.157.

If the notice the builder provided to the county under Section 233.154 (c) does not indicate that the inspection showed compliance with the applicable building code standards, the county may take either or both of the actions under Subsections (a)(2) and (3).”

The law goes on to state that:
“A builder commits an offense if:
(1) the builder fails to provide proper notice in accordance with Sections 233.154(b) and (c); or
(2) as provided by Section 233.155(b), the builder does not provide notice under Section 233.154(c) that indicates that the inspection showed compliance with the applicable building code standards.”

The builder has some relief against prosecution. The law states that if the builder’s failure to provide notice is a result of the inspector’s failure to provide appropriate documentation, then the builder is not exposed to prosecution. This law, which went into effect on September 1, 2017, applies to new residential construction that commences on or after September 1, 2017.