TEXAS INTERIOR DESIGN LEGISLATIVE UPDATE 2020

Rep. Craig Goldman (Ft. Worth, TX) passed HB2847 in the 2019 legislative session. It was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott and took effect September 1, 2019. This omnibus bill provided occupation licensing restriction relief for many Texas entrepreneurs, small business owners, and sole proprietors especially interior designers. 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. Disallows TBAE 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 designer/certificate holders.
  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 those who do this, they can still send you “cease and desist” letters 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, like we have in Texas. Thanks for Gov. DeSantis and others who supported freedom, capitalism, and fair competition. Only Nevada, DC, Louisiana, Puerto Rico still have Practice Acts in law, which keeps unregistered designers from being able to design in any space used by the public. ASID spent over $1M years ago, to get the Florida Practice Act imposed. If you are still an ASID member, part of your dues goes to support lobbying efforts to pass laws that restrict your right to work! It is disbursed to chapters who then “donate” to lobbyists and PACs. Allied ASID members are particularly vulnerable.
  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. Deceptively, 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 and kitchen & bath specialist, I produce a full set of drawings (not structural) for my projects. I do this for my own reputation as well as that of our profession.
  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. I am presently sitting for an additional AKBD exam through the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Find a professional association (NKBA and others) who support your education/experience and won’t work to pass laws that cripple your ability to earn a living like ASID and IIDA. The DSA (Designer Society of America) and IDS (Interior Design Society) are fine organizations, and have their own certifications, but those certifications are exclusively residential and are not recognized as prerequisites to sit for the NCIDQ exam or obtain state registration if you so desire.

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