TEXAS INTERIOR DESIGN LEGISLATIVE UPDATE 2020 (Updated April 19, 2022)

Rep. Craig Goldman (Ft. Worth, TX) authored HB2847 in the Texas 2019 legislative session. It was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott and took effect September 1, 2019. This amazing omnibus bill provided occupation licensing restriction relief for many Texas entrepreneurs, small business owners, and sole proprietors especially interior designers like me. I was honored to work with Rep. Goldman’s office, especially Amanda Robertson and I testified at multiple committee hearings in support of HB2847.

HB2847 successfully restricted Texas Board of Architectural Examiners powers by changing law as follows:

  1. TBAE is no longer allowed to impose administrative and/or criminal penalties on non-registered interior designers in Texas for conduct related to their practice of interior design. TBAE had been allowed to penalize non-registered Texas interior designers for decades.
  2. Amended the Texas Occupational Code to allow TBAE to impose administrative penalties ONLY on registered interior designers.
  3. Completely removed Subchapter H of the Texas Occupations Code 1053, which said that a person commits a Class C misdemeanor, (subject to fines and more) if they call themselves a “registered interior designer” when they are not. While TBAE can no longer impose a criminal penalty for unregistered designers who use this protected title, they can still pursue “cease and desist” pathways and make your working life miserable, so a title violation is not a good idea.

Most frequently asked questions:

  1. Can I practice interior design in Texas without a design degree? A: YES.
  2. Can I practice commercial and/or residential design in Texas without a license? A: YES. Texas does not “license” designers because a license requires a Practice Act, which Texas does not have. Texas issues a title only, that of “RID” or “Registered Interior Designer”. Regardless, you do not need either one to practice interior design in Texas.
  3. Do I have to be registered in Texas to practice interior design? A: NO.
  4. Do I have to pass the NCIDQ to practice interior design in Texas? A: NO.
  5. Must I refer to myself as an “interior decorator” in Texas if I am not registered? A: NO.
  6. Does TBAE regulate interior design/interior designers in Texas? A: NO. TBAE only regulates a small percentage of interior designers in Texas, those who chose to be registered. They do NOT regulate the majority of designers, or their professional business conduct, or projects they work on.
  7. Does Texas have interior design laws? A: Yes, Texas has a “Title Act”, which means Texas restricts the use of a title, that of “registered interior designer”. You may not use those 3 words, in that order, unless you are registered. Texas does NOT have a Practice Act, which restricts a designer’s ability to work on certain projects, unless they are registered.
  8. What about other states? Update on Florida ID laws: as of July 2020, Florida has rescinded their restrictive Practice Act in favor of a more business friendly voluntary Title Act, similar to the Texas law. Thanks to Gov. DeSantis and others who supported freedom, capitalism, and fair competition. Only Nevada, DC, Louisiana, Puerto Rico have Practice Acts in law, which keeps unregistered designers from being able to design in any space used by the public.
  9. Are all/most Texas RIDs (registered interior designers) qualified? A: NO. To date, approximately 50% of RIDs were “grandfathered” in, and do NOT possess the qualifications imposed on applicants from 1994 on, when the grandfathering window closed. Unfairly, the TBAE website holds out all RIDs to the consuming public, as being qualified when they are in fact, not. In 1993-1994 you could become a RID by claiming you “had worked in the industry for 5 years”, no post-secondary education, no examination, no proof. Consumer beware.
  10. Can I stamp and seal drawings in states without a Practice Act in place, if I am unregistered? A: Maybe, but probably not. This is a state/municipality issue. I called my local building official about residential remodel plans. His reply, “If you can communicate your changes on the back of a napkin, you’re good, and no need for a stamp/seal”. If you want to operate as a GC, not work as a sub under someone else, then it would be wise to meet with your building officials, take their courses and obtain proper insurance before you begin. Additionally, the rules for commercial vs. residential design projects are different. Inquire. As a dual certified interior design professional (NCIDQ and CMKBD) and kitchen & bath specialist, I produce a full set of dimensioned drawings (not structural) for my projects. This is for documentation and communication with client, GC, subcontractors, inspectors and others.
  11. What education/examinations do you recommend? If you have the time and resources to pursue a 4-year accredited design education, do it. After graduation, it would be wise to learn under a more experienced designer. I skipped this step. Slight regrets. Next, I passed the very difficult NCIDQ examination. No regrets. Take it. I recently earned the Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designer credential through The National Kitchen and Bath Association. You can do it too! Finally, find a professional association (NKBA and others) who support your education/experience and won’t work to pass laws that could put you out of business. Follow the money…all the way to lobbyists and PACs.

Comments

  1. Hi Kelley, thanks for posting all these very informative details. I have a specific question that I am not seeing addressed; what can an interior designer (non registered) do in terms of actual practice before they need an architect to come into the picture? I am consulting on a commercial project slated fo the Houston area and the client has requested tweaks to the layout of project. I will be sure it is to code but at what point does it have to be handed over to an architect (TBAE member is waiting in the wings) I came from a province where Interior designers can’t move a wall without a registered architect overseeing the project so don’t want to put the horse before the cart here so to speak. Thanks!

  2. Kayla Gatte says

    As a new interior designer that has recently graduated with my bachelor’s looking to start my career. I appreciate what you’ve done and the wisdom your passing on.

    • Congratulations Kayla on your recent graduation.This is a busy time for interior designers. Best wishes on employment. Happy to share any helpful information with newcomers to the field. It can be complicated.

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