TAVARES — With storm recovery efforts currently underway, homeowners should be aware of the dangers in hiring unlicensed contractors to repair damage. If work is performed by an unlicensed contractor, and it does not meet code standards, there is no recourse, other than through civil court. Homeowners who hire unlicensed contractors could potentially face several costly penalties, such as being issued an order to stop construction or hefty fines.
Some early warning signs of an unlicensed contractor are:
- A large down payment is requested before work begins.
- Many requests for money during early phases of construction.
- The homeowner is asked to obtain the permit.
- Verbal contract only, the person is not willing to put all terms in writing.
- The contractor does not have proof of insurance.
- The contractor informs the homeowner that the job does not require a permit or inspection. (To verify if a permit is required, call Building Services at (352) 343-9653.)
- The contractor is only willing to work on weekends or after hours.
- Someone other than the person or company contracting to do the work obtains the permit.
- Contractor displays only an occupational license. (An occupation license is not a license to perform contracting work.)
- The homeowner is asked to make checks payable to an individual when the contract is with a company, or asked to make payments in cash, or to make the check payable to "cash."
- Newspaper advertisements, flyers or yellow page advertisements where only the telephone number appears and there is not a business address.
- License numbers are not on the vehicle, business cards, contracts, flyers, newspaper or yellow page advertisements.
Lake County is committed to protecting its residents from unlicensed contractor activities and scams. To find out if an individual is properly licensed, call Lake County Building Services at (352) 343-9653, or log on to www.lakecountyfl.gov, keyword: contractor tracking.