Why hire a Licensed Contractor?
- Licensed individuals have the education, experience, required insurance and other qualifications to obtain a license.
- Licensed individuals have been screened for prior criminal history.
- Licensed individuals are required to carry the appropriate insurance and workers’ compensation to ensure that you are not held liable if someone is hurt on the job.
- There is little recourse for consumers who are harmed by unlicensed individuals.
- Licensed individuals have the ability to become factory trained installers for all manufacturers and therefore able to give manufacturers warranties, where as a person who is not factory trained can not give out a manufacturer’s warranty.
Choosing a contractor?
- Before you hire a contractor ask to see a state issued license. You can check to make sure that license is current on the DBPR’s website.
- Be sure the license looks like the example shown on this page.
- An occupational license does not qualify an individual to act as a contractor. It’s really just a “tax revenue receipt.”
- Being registered with the Division of Corporations as an INC. or LLC., does not qualify an individual or company to act as a contractor. The individual must be licensed by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).
- Ask for references. A legitimate contractor will be happy to provide you with the names and contact information of recent customers.
- Get a written estimate from several licensed contractors. Make sure the estimate includes all the work the contractor will do, the materials involved, and the total cost.
- Beware of contractors who claim to be the fastest or the cheapest. Hiring them could result in poor workmanship, inferior materials or unfinished jobs.
- A contractor must have a license from the DBPR to perform repairs or replacements, structural additions, air conditioning repair or replacement, plumbing work, electrical and/or alarm work. These jobs typically require a permit. Be sure to check with your local building department regarding permit requirements for all of your projects.
- DBPR does not license or have jurisdiction over concrete contractors, painters, drywall contractors, cabinetmakers, tile installers, or anyone doing minor repairs. Check with your local building department regarding license requirements for these trades. Remember to ask for references.
Red flags that your contractor may not be licensed or insured.
The Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation encourages homeowners to beware of unlicensed and unscrupulous persons posting as licensed and insured contractors on the internet.
- No license number in advertisement or posting. Licensed contractors are required to list their license number in all advertisements. Rule of thumb: If they don’t have a license listed in their advertisement, which can be verified; move on to the next one.
- They list only their name and a cell phone number in their advertisement or posting. Do you really want to invite some stranger into your home that you contacted from an anonymous internet site or classified advertisement?
- They claim to be “licensed and insured” but can only produce an “occupational license,” or corporate filing. An “Occupational License” is not a license. It just means that the person has paid a tax receipt to the local municipality. Most local and county governments have stopped using this term as it is misleading and is often used to dupe unsuspecting home owners. Also, just because a company is listed a corporation does not mean they have the professional license to do your job. Professionals properly licensed by the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation are proud to show you both their department issued license and proof of insurance. Be sure to note the license number and verify the license is current and issued to the company or person you want to hire. You can also contact the DBPR at 850-487-1395.
- They want all or most of the money up front or will only accept cash. Run, don’t walk. Never pay cash for your home repairs or improvements.
- They want you to write the check to them individually or to “cash.” Be cautious of writing checks made payable to individuals, especially when dealing with a company.
- They show up in unmarked vehicles offering to do work, and often have out of state tags. Known as “trunk slammers” these are often the “hit and run” of the unlicensed contractors. Once they have your money, they slam the trunk shut and hit the road.
- They don’t want to put the work agreement in writing. Licensed contractors know its good business to put everything in writing, including a detailed description of the work to be completed, approximate completion time, and the total cost.
- They try to convince you a permit is not necessary or that it’s cheaper if you obtain it yourself. Licensed contractors know that most improvements to the home require a permit and inspection process to verify the work has been done to code. Contact your local building department if you are not sure the work you are having done requires permitting and inspections. This is for your own safety and may be required as part of future insurance claims.
- Protect yourselves from unlicensed activity. We can’t say it enough. Always verify the license on line or call the DBPR Customer Contact Center at 850-487-1395.
Signing a contract:
- The contractor’s name, street address, telephone number and state license number need to be on the contract.
- A precise description of work to be completed, including a work completion time line (draw schedule) and list of materials.
- Warranty agreements, including length, terms and recourse.
- A notice of consumers’ rights under the Florida Homeowners’ Construction Recovery Fund for contract involving general, residential, or building contractors.
- Read your contract carefully and personally fill in any blank spaces. Consider having an attorney review the contract. If you do not have an attorney, the Florida Bar offers a lawyer referral service.
- Review your contract before you sing it.
- Contact your insurance company to check and see if the work to be performed can be covered by your insurance policy.
- Avoid paying cash.
- Avoid any contractor who requires full payment in advance. Most contractors will require a 10% down payment; this will cover the cost of some materials as well as the permitting. Make arrangements for the balance of the contract with the contractor before signing the contract. The terms should be in writing on the contract.
- 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 the final inspection approval from the building department.
- If your contract exceeds $2,500.00, become familiar with the Florida Construction Lien Law.
- Most jobs require permits. Always check with your local building department regarding permits needed for your project.
To check on or to report unlicensed activities in your area please follow the link below: