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 How to Protect Yourself
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Homeowners can protect themselves by avoiding unlicensed contractors. Lake County is committed to protecting its residents from unlicensed contractor activities and scams. Lake County has employed a licensing investigator and adopted an ordinance, which enables the investigator to write citations imposing fines against violators. Working without the proper license is against the law. Residents should be aware of what can happen if they hire an unlicensed contractor. If the work is not done to code or workmanship standards, there is no recourse against the unlicensed contractor, other than through the civil courts. Contractor license information can be located on this Web site.

A Handyman is not a licensed contractor and cannot obtain building permits. To find out if an individual is properly licensed, call Lake County Office of Building Services at 352-343-9653.

Early warning signs of an unlicensed contractor

  1. A large down payment is requested before work begins.
  2. Many requests for money during early phases of construction.
  3. The homeowner is asked to obtain the permit.
  4. Verbal contract only, the person is not willing to put all terms in writing.
  5. The contractor does not have proof of insurance.
  6. The contractor informs the homeowner that the job does not require a permit or inspection. (To verify if a permit is actually required, call the Office of Building Services at 352-343-9653.)
  7. The contractor is only willing to work on weekends or after hours.
  8. Someone other than the person or company contracting to do the work obtains the permit.
  9. Contractor displays only a business tax receipt. (An business tax receipt [aka occupational license] is not a license to perform contracting work.)
  10. The homeowners 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."
  11. Newspaper advertisements, flyers or yellow page advertisements where only the telephone number appears and there is not a business address.
  12. License numbers are not on the vehicle, business cards, contracts, flyers, newspaper or yellow page advertisements.

The homeowner can also ask questions

  1. Ask what type of license they have. The license should be issued from the Lake County Office of Building Services or the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
  2. Ask to see a copy of their license. To lawfully engage in contracting, a contractor must be either State Registered or State Certified, or Locally Licensed.
  3. Ask for a copy of their liability and workman's compensation insurance. Licensed contractors must have general liability and workers compensation insurance in force at all times.

Remember a business tax receipt (aka occupational liscense) or handyman license is not a license to perform contracting work. If in doubt, call the Office of Building Services at 352-343-9653. Contractor license information can be located on this Web site.

Homeowners who hire unlicensed contractors face several potentially costly penalties. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation can issue an order to stop construction and can levy a $5,000 fine for aiding and abetting unlicensed contractors.

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