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Am I affected by the new Austin ECAD Ordnance?

Austin homes’ energy efficiency get a potential boost this month as the Austin City Council approved a change to the Energy Conservation And Disclosure (ECAD) Ordnance. In summary:

  1. ECAD Audit reports have to handed over 3 days before any buyer’s option period ends
  2. Condos now require ECAD Audits in addition to single family homes

Before the changes, the main implication of the ECAD ordnance was that sellers of single family homes over 10 years old served by Austin Energy that hadn’t had sufficient energy improvements had to pay for an ECAD Audit. The resulting report had to be handed over to the buyer “at some point” before closing.

Now, the audit must be performed and the report handed over while the buyer still has some time to do something about it. The new rules mandate an audit be handed over to a buyer three days before the end of their option period, or before contract execution if there is no option period. During the option period, it is possible for the buyer to terminate their purchase contract for any reason. That reason could be an inability to negotiate successful energy efficiency improvements with the seller.

Do people negotiate over the ECAD audits? So far, my experience has been that No they don’t unless something terrible is revealed. Most people hone in on duct leakage as it’s a relatively simple thing to understand – expensive cold air escaping where it needs to be is an obvious waste of resources.

The other reason is that I have always told my home sellers to get an ECAD audit before they put their home on the market. That way if there are items that need addressing, they can be done before the home is on the market. The most successful negotiating strategy, and the way to get the highest net for your home is to negotiate from a position of knowledge. If you know what you’re selling and you disclose it ahead of time, a buyer can’t reasonably come back and say that they want something fixed or a cash allowance. If they do, they’re not being reasonable, and there are ways to negotiate with the unreasonable which I won’t go into here.

Helpful FAQ / resources:

Do I need an ECAD audit? Use Austin Energy’s self-check site to determine if your 10+ year old home is exempt

How long is an ECAD Audit valid? If I get one now and sell next year, will I have to get a new one? The Audit is valid for 10 years, which is quite frankly ridiculous, but means there’s no reason not to schedule one today.

Are condos exempt from the ECAD Audits? No longer – condos do require ECAD Audits from May 2nd 2011.

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Garreth Wilcock is an Austin EcoBroker®

Specializing in: New Green Homes in Austin.

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