A number of new laws were passed in Texas this past legislative session that impact the construction industry, including changes to the mechanic’s lien laws and the statute allowing for the recovery of attorney’s fees in certain civil cases.
There is also a new statute (Chapter 59 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code) meant to ensure that a contractor is not responsible for the consequences of design defects in plans and specifications provided a person other than the contractor’s agents, contractors, fabricators, suppliers, or consultants. These were discussed in detail at the 35th Annual Construction Law Conference I recently attended, along with several other KRCL attorneys.
Additionally, a more obscure new statute was mentioned at the conference – Chapter 116 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code. Chapter 116 applies to commercial construction projects in Texas and requires the developer of the project to visibly post the following information at the entrance to the construction site: (1) the name and contact information of the developer; and (2) a brief description of the project. It applies to commercial building projects, including multifamily buildings.
The bill’s author stated that the intent of the statute is to help facilitate transparency between developers and neighboring landowners by requiring developers to share their name, contact information, and a brief description of a project at the construction site because constituents often wish to communicate with developers about local concerns, safety, traffic, and noise or air pollution. As for what constitutes “a brief description of the project,” there is no form or template for the required posting that has been published, and there is not a lot of detail or guidance in the statute or its legislative history.
However, the City of El Paso has a similar project description requirement for its permitting application process. When El Paso asks for “a brief description of the project,” it provides the following example: “Four-story mixed-use building with mercantile on the first floor and residential units on upper floors.” That should be a sufficient project description for purposes of the new statute, but the local authority having jurisdiction may have its own thoughts on what level of detail is required.