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HIRING A CONTRACTOR?

Here’s some advice from Florida’s Construction Industry Licensing Board

  • Don’t be victimized by someone making a door-to-door presentation offering to do repair jobs or home improvements "on-the-spot" and requiring a cash deposit.
  • Ask to see their Florida state registered or Florida state certified contractor’s license. Visit www.myfloridalicense.com or call the number below to verify that the license is valid.
  • Get at least three bids, and ask for references of work the contractor has completed in your area. Make personal contactsand ask about the quality of work.
  • Require a written contract with the contractor’s license number on it. Don’t sign if there are any blank areas and until youfully understand the terms.
  • Don’t pay cash, don’t let payments get ahead of the work completed, and don’t pay the full cost of the job up-front. Make sure that building material costs are paid; ask for receipts.
  • Check workers’ compensation coverage by requesting to see a certificate of insurance. If injuries occur on your property, you may be liable.
     
You can verify if a Florida contractor has a state license by visiting www.myfloridalicense.com or by calling the board office at (850) 487-1395.

Hiring a Handyman in Florida

What should you look for when hiring someone to work on your home or property?

The State of Florida does not license or regulate handyman practitioners, although some local jurisdictions may. Therefore, a handyman is only able to perform minor repairs (e.g., general cleanup, painting, fence repairs, trim work/repair and hanging/repairing sheet rock/wallboard, etc.), and cannot do any structural work, such as laying foundations, removing or adding structural walls, performing room additions, plumbing or electrical work. When a handyman moves from the realm of minor repairs to structural repairs or construction work that he or she is not authorized to do, they are entering the area of unlicensed activity and are subject to prosecution.

 
Realtors often hire handymen to make repairs to properties they list for sale. This is legitimate - provided the handyman makes only minor repairs (as outlined above) that do not fall under the scope of work of regulated licenses (outlined in Section 489.105, Florida Statutes).
 
When shopping for home repairs, the first criteria that should be met are
  • (a) whether or not the person is properly licensed, and
  • (b) whether a permit is required for the work in question

Check with your local building department to ensure whether handymen are regulated within their jurisdiction. Next, make sure he or she has an occupational license – you don’t want to risk having your local building department place a stop work order on your project when it is half completed.

Proper liability and workers’ compensation insurance coverage is of equal importance. Suppose your handyman backs into your neighbor’s privacy fence, damaging two sections, while delivering materials to your job site. Should you or your insurance company pay for the repairs? You will if your handyman doesn’t have insurance. Let’s use a more extreme, but common, example. Your handyman falls off a ladder while making repairs to the ceiling of your front porch. He falls through your plate glass window, suffering severe lacerations and breaking his arm. If he is not insured, who will pay his lost wages (workers’ compensation) while he is recuperating, and for the replacement of your plate glass window (liability)? You will. Your liability could be indefinite if he suffered restricted use or loss of mobility in his arm as a result of the fall. Think about this scenario as you prepare for your next repair or remodeling project.

Ensure that the project is properly permitted at the local building authority. You, the homeowner, could be fined, have your project stopped, or both, if it isn’t. Don’t let a handyman talk you into pulling the permit, even if it will save you money. The person pulling the permit is responsible for any code violations, and correcting them may cost you extra. Only the homeowner or a properly licensed practitioner, whose license is recognized by the building authority, or his designated representative, may pull permits. Permitting protects you and your neighbors by ensuring that your project meets the building specifications for your area.

A "handyman" trade is not one of the 22 construction-related licensing categories regulated by the State of Florida. Therefore, if you choose to hire a handyman, you will not be covered under the umbrella of protection of Florida Statutes. Section 489.113(2), states “This statute does not affect the application of any local construction licensing ordinances." Again, one should contact their local building department to check those credentials. But always play it safe and only hire properly licensed people to work on your home.

To check to see if a contractor is properly licensed, log on to www.myfloridalicense.com and search for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation or call us at (850) 487-1395. You can also call the DBPR Regulation/Compliance regional office nearest you and file a Uniform Complaint against a person or company. The Division of Regulation/Compliance is charged with investigating alleged unlicensed activity within professions and businesses regulated by the department.