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Posted on: February 18, 2020

Know the signs of unlicensed contractor activity or scams

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The Santa Rosa County Development Services Department is committed to protecting citizens from unlicensed contractor activity and scams. Know the warning signs to protect yourself when hiring a contractor for solar, plumbing, electrical or other building services, to perform work on any home or business. Thoroughly research a contractor before hiring is of utmost importance.

The first step to a successful project is to ask to see a contractor’s license or license number - and verify it - before signing a contract or working with a contractor. A licensed contractor can be verified at data1.santarosa.fl.gov/gopermitsnew/index.cfm and on the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) at www.myfloridalicense.com. Ask for recommendations from trusted people or the Better Business Bureau. If unlicensed activity is discovered, report it to the Florida unlicensed activity hotline at 866-532-1440.

Obtain at least three written and itemized estimates for any proposed work, including a clear statement of the work to be performed and all costs. Be sure to read and fully understand the contract. Remember:

  • Florida law requires a licensed contractor to display their license number on all contracts, estimates, proposals and invoices. This information is also required on promotional materials or vehicles that contain the company or contractor’s name.  
  • All residential contracts exceeding $2,500 related to improvements of real property on single family and multi-family dwellings up to four units must include a construction lien law disclosure and recovery fund disclosure. The construction lien law disclosure states consumers of those who work on the property or provide material and services and are not paid in full have a right to enforce their claim for payment against the property. This claim is known as a construction lien. The recovery fund disclosure is advising that consumers have certain rights under Florida law if they have suffered damages caused by the financial mismanagement of a licensed contractor or construction company with whom they have a signed a construction contract.
  • Never pay the full amount up front and always have a full understanding of how much will be required.
  • Have the contract reviewed by an attorney or by someone trusted before signing.

Watch for red flags and be wary of anyone who:

  • Asks to perform unsolicited work.
  • Says they can offer a deal or perform the work at a discounted rate because they have a surplus of materials from another job.
  • Says that a permit and inspections are not required.
  • Has a name listed on business cards, contracts, promotional material or vehicles that is different from the name listed on the DBPR license.
  • Uses high pressure tactics.
  • Asks for large deposits.
  • Presents a tax receipt (a/k/a occupational license) as their contractor’s license.
  • Will not provide a certificate of insurance for general liability and worker’s compensation coverage.
  • Will not provide a written contract.
  • Only wants to work on weekends or after hours.

To find which construction industry services require a DBPR license, visit www.myfloridalicense.com/DBPR/unlicensed-activity. For additional information, call Santa Rosa County Development Services, (850) 981-7000 or the DBPR, (850) 487-1395. 

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