Under Florida Statutes 489, contractors performing construction-related work must be licensed. Although hiring an unlicensed contractor may seem like a quick and affordable solution, the consequences can be serious in the long term, including further damage to your property.
Be cautious when hiring a contractor for home improvements. Become an informed consumer and protect yourself from dishonest persons who will take advantage of you.
Tips for Working with a Contractor
- Ask to see a state-issued license, which should list the contractor's name, license number, address and specialty.
- If a contractor has multiple employees, ask for the contractor's general liability and worker's compensation insurance policies.
- Get written estimates from several licensed contractors. Make sure the scope of work for the job is clearly detailed in the contract.
- Ask for references.
- Review contracts carefully before signing and ask questions.
- Avoid paying cash.
- Avoid any contractor who requires full payment in advance. Arrange to pay after the contractor completes the work or in agreed-upon installments.
- Don't sign off that work is completed until all work is finished according to your contract, and the contractor has cleared all permits with final inspection approval from the building department.
- Most jobs require permits. Check with the building department regarding permits needed for your project.
Warning Signs that a Contractor may not be Licensed
- They are not willing to put a contract in writing.
- They ask you to obtain a permit or say the permit is not necessary.
- They request a large down payment before work begins.
- They ask you to pay in cash or make a check payable to cash.
- They ask you to make a check payable to an individual, instead of a company name.
- They cannot provide proof of insurance.
- They do not display a license number on advertisements.
- They are only willing to work on weekends.
Report Unlicensed Activity
Unlicensed contracting activity is a crime that negatively affects the health, safety, and welfare of our community. To report Unlicensed Activity contact the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation at (866) 532-1440.
To verify a contractor's license, or to file a complaint against a contractor call the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at (850) 487-1395 or go to the Department's website: www.MyFloridaLicense.com