TAVARES – With the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season upon us, and residents facing an increased chance of rain and damaging winds that could result in home or property damage, the Lake County Board of County Commissioners is encouraging all citizens to hire licensed contractors to do any repair or construction work that they may need.
Work done by unlicensed contractors may not meet state or local building codes and standards, possibly leaving citizens’ safety and property in jeopardy, with potentially no legal recourse for the consumer.
Additionally, those who hire unlicensed contractors could face numerous repercussions and penalties, including being issued an order to stop construction, substantial fines or being held responsible for covering workers compensation if a worker is injured.
To help ensure the contractor is performing legitimate work, citizens should always request the contractor’s licensing and insurance information before any payment is made or any work begins. Some early warning signs of an unlicensed contractor are:
1. A large down payment is requested before work begins.
2. Many requests for money are made during early phases of construction.
3. The customer is asked to obtain the permit.
4. The individual insists on a verbal contract only, without putting all terms in writing.
5. The individual does not have proof of insurance to include workers compensation insurance.
6. The individual claims that the job does not require a permit or inspection. (To verify if a permit is required, call Lake County’s Building Services Division at 352-343-9653 then press 5.)
7. The individual is only willing to work on weekends or after hours.
8. Someone other than the contractor or the contracting company obtains the permit.
9. The individual displays only a business tax receipt (formally known as an occupational license). A business tax receipt is not a license to perform contracting work.
10. The customer is asked to make checks payable to an individual when the contract is with a company, is asked to pay in cash, or to make the check payable to "cash."
For more information about the dangers of hiring unlicensed contractors, or to find out if an individual is properly licensed, call the Lake County Growth Management Department at 352-343-9653 then press 5.