Things to Know Prior to Hiring a Contractor:
- Check the Contractor’s License. Is the contractor properly licensed? A license number in an advertisement or on a business card does not necessarily mean the contractor’s license is valid. Contact the Board for Contractors at Center at 850.487.1395., or check our website at https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp , to make sure the contractor is properly licensed to perform the work you want. Information on past complaints and disciplinary act ions is also available from the Contractors Board. My Contractors License Number is CGC1513715.
- Contractor’s License is required for the license category in which the contractor is to work. Licensed contractors are subject to laws designed to protect the consumer. By hiring a licensed contractor, you become eligible to receive monetary compensation from the Contractor Transaction Recovery Fund in case of improper or dishonest conduct. Licensed contractors possess the necessary education and experience to perform competently.
- Unlicensed contracting is against the law. If you contract with someone who does not hold a license, the Board for Contractors may not be able to help you resolve a complaint, leaving you with little recourse against the unlicensed contractor. Check the Contractor’s References call the references listed on his website, remember he has already asked them if it would be OK for future clients to call them and ask questions. Skilled contractors will be proud to take credit for their work. If possible, go out and look at finished projects. Some consumers even try to find jobs in progress to see how the contractor works and to speak with the homeowner about work habits or inconveniences. Remember, the person you hire to work on your home will be a part of your home and your life until the job is completed and future projects as well.
- Check references other than just customer references. You may want to talk with references from material suppliers, subcontractors, or financial institutions to determine whether the contractor is financially responsible.
- Have what you want done written out and be as specific as possible. For example have the model #’s of your appliances, sink and faucet and type of cabinet you want picked out and include the options like dove tail drawers.This way you will get 3 contractors bidding on the same information. For larger jobs like a room addition or a new home you should have a set of plans to go over and give to each of your 3 contractors. You can call one of the contractors and ask him for the architect he uses and let him know you will be calling him to provide a bid after you get your plans from the architect.
- Hiring the right contractor for your job. If you are looking to refurbish your home you want a contractor with extensive background in remodeling. A new construction contractor will not understand how to bid on remodeling projects as there are different costs associated with a remodel. This could result in the contractor coming to you for more money or cutting corners to save money.
- ALWAYS Have a signed contract that includes a detailed scope of work. This will eliminate a lot of change orders and misunderstanding.Anything you sign could be used by a contractor as authorization to go forward with your project. This means that any bid or estimate you sign may become the contract. Do not sign anything until you completely understand what you are signing, and agree to all the terms. Be sure the financial terms of the contract are clear. The contract should include the total price, when payments will be made, and whether there is a cancellation penalty. On any home improvement job, you should expect to make a down payment, but try to limit your deposit to no more than 30% of the total price.
- Ask for Lien releases from suppliers and sub contractors from the Contractor prior to releasing your final payment. You want to ensure that they have been paid and or have waved their right to lien your home or business in the future as sometimes suppliers give contractors up to 45 days to pay for materials and in that time the job has already been completed.
- Change orders are going to happen , contractors want change orders paid in full in advance. The contractor should provide a written change order to include the scope of work and the price. This must be signed by both you and the contractor and each has a copy for their records.
- Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project. Include signed contract,Plans and specifications, bills and invoices, cancelled checks,lien releases,any letters or notes to you or the contractor, and take pictures of the job along the way for memories and to use in the future if a problem arises.
- The work to be performed should be in accordance with all applicable building codes. Keep in mind that building codes only set minimum safety standards for construction, they do not protect you against poor work quality. Building officials in each locality are responsible for administering the Uniform Statewide Building Code in Florida. If you have any questions about Building Code requirements see http://www2.iccsafe.org/states/florida_codes/.
The contractor should obtain any necessary building permits. This should be spelled out in your contract; otherwise, you may be held legally responsible for failure to obtain any required permits.
- In spite of all the precautions you take, problems will sometimes occur with the work that was done on your home. If problems do arise, either during construction or afterward, contact your contractor first. Usually he or she will make corrections willingly.
Be sure to address all problems or complaints directly to your contractor in writing, so that you both have a record. If the contractor refuses to make corrections, you should file a written complaint with the Board for Contractors.You may also wish to consult an attorney.
- Consumers victimized by the improper or dishonest conduct of a licensed contractor may be eligible to receive a monetary relief. The Contractor Transaction Recovery Fund may pay claims up to $20,000 to consumers who are awarded civil court judgments against a licensed contractor for improper or dishonest conduct. The Recovery Fund is supported entirely by assessments paid by licensed contractors, not by any tax revenues. Please see link http://archive.flsenate.gov/data/Publications/2010/Senate/reports/interim_reports/pdf/2010-129ri.pdf
- A contractor must have a license from DBPR to perform roofing 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.
Most of the largest cities in the bay area have their own building departments for permit information and particular requirements; other communities fall under their respective counties. Note that you need to search “permits” within some sites. Help protect your fellow neighbor and licensed contractors by reporting non permitted and unlicensed work.
St. Petersburg: http://www.stpete.org/development/