Tag Archives: unlicensed contractors

Unlicensed & Uninsured Building Contractors in Florida

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation often canvases emails to licensed professionals about their efforts to stop unlicensed activity. And, their effort, while not very effective has another big problem? Limited by a lack of funding which results in less enforcement and compliance, they often write about unlicensed activity and what consumers can do to protect themselves, they mention checking the contractor’s license of the person performing the work. They should also inform consumers that the company or person that they are entering into a contract with is the same person or company listed on the license. This is because an unlicensed contractor will have used another contractor’s license to pull the permit. This is illegal and is called aiding and abetting an unlicensed contractor. The DBPR should create a task force to not only educate the consumer but the local building departments as well.

I will give an example of a recent case where I was called because the contractor they hired was given a large amount of money to do a renovation to a condominium in Sunny Isles, Florida and never showed up to do the work. After meeting with the building department to see if a permit was obtained, sure enough; it wasn’t. To make things worse, when the lady at the counter asked the name of the contractor (American Contractors) she laughed and mentioned that she has herd of other cases in nearby buildings Oveanview Condominiums 1, 2 & 3, Park West & The Hemisphere Condominiums. This contractor was referred by a friend that lived in a condominium in Aventura, FL. I asked to see the contract and it stated “American Contractors” “Licensed and Insured” and it appeared to be hand written on a 2 part invoice and a scribbled signature that I could not make sense of.

The point of this blog is to make you aware of what to look for, let’s start with a few easy ones:
1. The proposal has to be typed on letter head bearing a physical license number.
2. Clearly states the name of the license holder
3. In my contracts, I always include a copy of my license and insurance. (This makes it easier to look-up the information i.e. license verification.
4. A construction schedule, preferably a Gantt Chart. If the contractor does not have a schedule or just throws out a date. Chances are, there is none?
Construction is no longer about the fancy truck or tool belt; we have subcontractors for this. It’s about management and complying with the technical aspects of construction. With the increased amount of codes being added every year; your contractor should be familiar with them. Because let’s face it – Building Inspectors are and will demand that not only the plans are being followed but the building codes as well.
Finally, if your contractor is not licensed then he is uninsured and if you signed a contract with a contractor that is using someone else’s license; it will be very hard to get your job done without costly delays.

Please post your comments, share & colaborate with others; GET INFORMED.


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Filed under Building Inspector, General Construction, Renovations

Protecting Yourself against Unlicensed Contractors in Florida

I must run into two to three people a week that has hired a contractor and don’t even know if they are licensed or not. I have one such case where the contractor spells out in there hand written proposal “Licensed and Insured”. However, after questioning this contractor, it is found that he is not licensed as a Certified Contractor nor has any insurance. Without boring my readers with the details of the law which I have provided below, the simple question I get is: Why is the license or having insurance so important? Well, let me give an example of a typical scenery.

A Contractor is hired to do work for you, and in this example we will use a condominium as an example. And you have hired this contractor to do work where there will be multiple trades involved and the contract amount is about $100,000 worth of renovations. Moreover, this contractor asks for you to write the check to their personal name and later we will find the reason is because, the contractor  does not have a legal or registered corporation.

As obvious as this example is, most people fall into the same trap. Let’s say 95%

Let’s move on to the fun of construction, the materials are delivered to your condo unit, however, the granite walls in the lobby and elevator is damaged and now you have the property manager calling you. Once you get past that fiasco, one of the workers get injured by falling from a 10′ ladder and has to be taken to the hospital but the worker nor the contractor has any insurance let alone; workman’s comp. Well now you just became responsible for the hospital bill and a potential lawsuit from the family of the injured worker. And since the permit was signed as the Owner/Builder, and the city inspector is not satisfied with the work, another problem mounts to the others. And, to top it off; the contractor has not paid the workers/sub-contractors and now you have liens on top of that. A COMPLETE NIGHTMARE!!

I run into these cases every single day and my first reaction is? Did you not see this coming? No easy answer, but if you are going to go through the trouble of renovating or building; Get Informed! I don’t care what state or county you are building in, one thing is for sure, Con’s will be there. So you need to ask questions. If the person makes you feel the question you just asked is dumb or you just don’t know or understand construction. I guarantee you, they are hiding something. I spend a countless amount of time making sure that my clients are well aware of what they are getting into and answer as many questions and encourage them to email me as questions arise.

The days of a guy jumping out of a big Chevy Dully with the bright tool bin slung across the bed and a metal clip board eager to start the same day is gone. Most of those guys could not read or interpret the building codes let alone read a set of plans. And the metal clip board, that is to give the quote, ask for a large sum of money and be lucky if this person comes back to start the work within the month.

Here is how a typical construction payment schedule should look. First, get a detailed breakdown of the costs from the different trades. The Architect/Engineer is usually the ground level of the project. ONLY pay for the plans to start. Once a permit is obtained, a construction schedule and schedule of payments will go into effect. Have a penalty clause for not meeting the deadline in the separate intervals of construction. And, never, never give a down payment that is more than what is allowed in your state, most states are right around 20%.


According to Florida Statute 455.228, if you hire an unlicensed contractor, the Department of Professional Regulations (D.P.R.) may issue a cease and desist order and also may take you to Circuit Court, which has the authority to impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for aiding and assisting unlicensed activity. You could also be liable for court cost.

• If you pull a permit for an unlicensed contractor, you are held responsible for the work, not the contractor.

• If you hire an unlicensed contractor, you may actually pay more for the job, than if you hired a licensed contractor. Especially, if the work is done incorrectly or never finished, you may have to pay twice or more for the same job to be corrected or finished.

• If the unlicensed contractor fails to pay his sub-contractors or suppliers, you may be required to pay them, even though you have already paid the contractor. • Plumbing, electrical, and heating and air conditioning, mold assessment/remediation work should be done only by contractors and craftsmen certified in those trades and may require separate permits.

• Home or Building improvement or Code Remediation contractors must be certified by the State of Florida as either a General, Building, or Residential contractor. • Roofing contractors are required to be certified or registered by the State.

• There is no such thing as a “legal” jack-of-all-trades.

• An “Occupational License” is not a regulatory license or a certificate of competency, but a tax for the privilege of engaging in or managing a business, profession or occupation.

• You may be held liable for injury on your property if the unlicensed contractor has no insurance or Workman’s Compensation.

The State of Florida is doing all it can to protect the public against illegal contractors by educating the public and offering the following suggestions. Watch for the following warning signs, these may indicate the person/company is not certified.

License information can be obtained from the D.B.P.R. web site:

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Filed under Building Violations, General Construction, Renovations