At yesterday’s presser, I asked Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis about the differences between Hurricane Sally and Hurricane Michael. He used his answer to talk about the dangers of unlicensed contractors.
The Home Builders Association of West Florida sent out this release:
The storm may be over, but the worst may be yet to come. Unlicensed contractors have taken to the streets in communities devastated by Hurricane Sally, and are preying on vulnerable Floridians.
The Home Builders Association of West Florida (HBA) urges Floridians affected by Hurricane Sally to be on the lookout for dishonest individuals posing as licensed contractors.
“Door-to-door solicitors who require large sums of money up front are clear signs of unlicensed contractors,” said Blaine Flynn, HBA President. “Hurricane victims should only use licensed contractors, who will show proof of insurance and licensure. These contractors’ licenses can be verified with the State of Florida, and they will never ask for money up front.”
Unlicensed contracting is illegal, and it can be easily avoided if the appropriate precautions are taken. FHBA, a member of the Disaster Contractors Network (www.dcnonline.org), encourages homeowners to follow these safety measures:
- Obtain at least three estimates from licensed and bonded contractors.
- Get the estimate in writing,
- Ask for and check references,
- Ask for proof of insurance,
- Get a written contract, and
- Make sure all work that requires city or county inspection is officially approved in writing before final payment is made.
Homeowners are encouraged to verify a contractor’s license by contacting the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) at 850.487.1395 or www.myfloridalicense.com. To report unlicensed activity, contact DBPR at 866.532.1440. Additionally, homeowners can report incidents of price gouging by calling 866.9NO-SCAM. For a list of licensed contractors, go to the HBA’s website: www.WestFloridaBuilders.com