Texas Commission Reduces Safety Rules in Unincorporated Areas

Texas Commission Reduces Safety Rules in Unincorporated Areas

On September 1, 2008, the Texas State Legislature passed House Bill 1038, which requires that residential construction, both new and remodel, completed by builders in unincorporated areas or in areas not subject to municipal inspections must have a minimum of three inspections conducted by a fee inspector.  This new inspection program will be administered by the Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC).  The commission is comprised of nine members appointed by the governor including four registered builders, three general public members, one residential construction engineer, and one residential construction architect or inspector.

The code requirements for this new inspection program, however, immediately raises questions as the statewide residential building codes are the 2000 International Residential Code® and the 1999 National Electrical Code® unless amended by a local jurisdiction or if the county seat has adopted an updated version of these codes.  This is in direct conflict with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation's adoption of the 2008 Edition of the NEC effective September 1, 2008.  When asked about the use of the 1999 NEC for residential electrical installations in unincorporated areas of Texas, a TDLR representative stated, "We maintain that any non-exempt electrical work started on or after September 1, 2008, in the unincorporated areas of Texas must be installed in accordance with the NEC 2008."

This is further evidence that the homebuilders industry, which appears to have undue influence on the TRCC, does not support the same level of safety involving electrical installations and other building code advancements that have been incorporated into the latest building code editions including the 2008 NEC.  There are many other states including Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida, where the homebuilders associations have fought to stall the adoption of the latest safety codes.  Their goal is simply not to adopt the latest building code safety technologies whatever the negative impact may be to new home buyers and their families! 

To enact a law that adopts a ten year old electrical safety code is an insult to the home buying public and does nothing to serve their interests or the continuing increase in public safety!

Vince Baclawski

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