Unfinished homes in Texas blocked by Austin Energy’s application process
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Wesley Olivas and Frederick Schurbuck stand on the second-story balcony of their new home.
Well, it’s almost theirs. Two members of the construction crew are hammering on the ground floor below.
They secured a contract for the house in December and their project manager said they paid their Austin Energy application fee in March – the same week they got it.
But they still haven’t gotten the go-ahead from Austin Energy to move forward.
“Now we’re at the end of September, and they’re telling us [it] may take another three to four months,” said Priscilla Hanson, the project manager who is also a realtor at Moreland Properties.
This means the couple’s mortgage rate, which they locked in months ago, is expiring and their new rate will mean up to $700 more per month. And if Austin Energy doesn’t hit its next target, the torque will likely have to lock in another, even higher rate.
“So over a 30-year term, that’s $180,000 more for the same property, just because of the delays,” Olivas said.
Plus, he added, there’s an upfront cost to locking in those tariffs.
“So right now, today, we’re at $9,000, in rate locks. And it’s going to cost us another $5,000 to $10,000 to get another rate lock. And…if we miss those dates, if… Austin Energy can’t give us specific dates, so we’re subject to more fees, more penalties, higher rates,” Olivas said.
KXAN has registered with Austin Energy.
The department explained that if a property requires new electrical installations such as poles or transformers, or if changes need to be made to existing installations, customers must submit an Electrical Service Planning Application (ESPA). This is what happened in this case.
Austin Energy spokeswoman Jennifer Harber said once the package is submitted, the department reviews it to make sure it has everything it needs before awarding the project to the company. Austin Energy design team.
“Austin is experiencing tremendous growth and workloads in all areas of the utility have increased, including the design team. Like other organizations, we have also been affected by staff shortages and supply chain issues in recent years. We have added new full-time staff, as well as contractors, to help us cope with the growing workload. »
Jennifer Harber, Austin Energy
Harber said the couple’s electrician or contractor didn’t fully complete the ESPA until mid-July, and in August the department put the project online to go to its design team, which is doing a final review of things like overhead and underground clearances and meter access.
In the meantime, the costs are piling up for Olivas and Schurbuck.
“We can’t stay where we are forever,” Schurbuck said.
The couple tried to adopt a child, but financial constraints put this dream in jeopardy.
“It just took a big delay because the house calls…we don’t have a house to have them come in and do that,” Olivas said.
Olivas said they came to KXAN to share their experience because they were at a breaking point.
“We hope someone could hear this. Maybe they can get some extra staff, extra heads if that’s really the thing to look at for some of these permits,” he said.