Jacksonville Legal Blog
In order to do building work on a person’s home or business, most contractors are legally required to have a license. According to a recent Miami Herald article, in Florida, the regulation of the construction industry is determined by Chapter 489 of the Florida Statutes. This governs the licensure of categories of contractors through the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s (DBPR) Construction Industry Licensing Board. Local governments also have additional licensing requirements. However, that doesn’t mean that every contractor that is hired has the required licenses.
Why Unlicensed Work is Done
In the last couple years there has been a surge of both home and business owners who have bypassed licensed contractors in favor of the cheaper, unlicensed, variety. In some cases, unlicensed contractors have downplayed their lack of licenses in order to try to bring in customers at cheaper rates than licensed contractors who pay licensing fees. Since unlicensed contractors are not able to get the proper permits, those who use them take a big risk, especially when the work does not meet Florida Building Code standards. Many are discovering they get what they pay for. Some of the problems that those with unlicensed modifications experience include:
- The voiding of product warranties for plumbing or appliances that are improperly installed
- Difficulty selling a property that has unlicensed modifications
- The denial of insurance coverage for improperly installed plumbing or appliances
- Unlicensed modifications often need to be torn down completely and redone from scratch
- No ability to pursue compensation through Florida Homeowners’ Construction Recovery Fund
How to Fight Back From Shoddy Work
While there are better protections in place when a license contractor fails to provide quality work, those who are facing the mistakes of unlicensed contractors are not entirely without recourse. For one, unlicensed contractors are not able to take advantage of the Florida lien law, which allows contractors to put a lien on property to assure payment for their work.
In addition, Florida law also states that unlicensed contractors that are not in pursuit of complying with proper licensing requirements can be asked to not only award damages to a customer who is injured as a result of their poor work, but may also be asked to pay attorney’s fees as well. Unlicensed contractors do not have the same rights to sue the property owner, and in some cases they may even be subject to civil and criminal penalties for working without a license.
While it’s always best to double check that a contractor has all the required licenses before they begin a job, there is help for those who discover errors in a contractor’s work whether they are licensed or not. An experienced lawyer can help you discover your rights and fight to get the compensation you need to rebuild.