Why Use a Licensed Contractor in Florida?

Florida Licensed Contractor

Using a Florida Licensed Contractor

Florida first promulgated regulations for contractors in the state in 1967 and authorized licensing for contractors the following year. Requiring licenses and enforcing regulations are meant to protect the public from unscrupulous contractors who might cut corners, perform shoddy work, or fail to perform the work that has been promised. While people might be tempted to go with unlicensed contractors to reduce their costs, doing so can cost much more in the long-term. Penal statutes are in place for contractors who violate the licensing laws. People who are harmed by unlicensed contractors may also have legal remedies available to help them to recover their losses. Choosing a highly-skilled and experienced Florida licensed contractor at United RHG Inc. can help you to avoid many problems.

What are the licensing requirements for contractors in Florida?

There are two main types of licenses available for contractors in Florida. Division I licenses are available for residential, building, and general contractors. Division II licenses are available for roofing, plumbing, and HVAC contractors. The licensing laws impose requirements on people who seek licenses. Before they can secure contractor licenses, people must meet certain standards of creditworthiness, morality, and insurability. License holders must also go through a specific process to qualify their companies, and the laws also include the types of activities that are prohibited and provide penalties for violating the licensing laws.

Corporations that want to perform contracting work in Florida must undergo a two-step process. They must first have individual certified contractors that can demonstrate their competence in one of the specific fields. Once the individuals are certified contractors, they are then allowed to engage in contracted work throughout the state. The individual certified contractor must then attach himself or herself to the corporation by becoming its qualifying agent. This requires the contractor to submit to a background check, fingerprint check, and credit check. Once he or she qualifies, he or she will be allowed to perform construction work through the corporate entity as a Florida licensed contractor.

The qualifying agent of a corporate entity must have hands-on involvement in the company’s operations and must have a supervisory or management role in directing and controlling the construction activities performed on jobs that require licensed contractors.

Exemptions to the licensing requirements

Several parties are exempt from the licensing requirements for contractors, including the following:

  • Road and bridge contractors
  • Material suppliers
  • Employees of a contractor who are working under their employer’s license
  • Property owners

Subcontractors who are hired to perform work by the contractor are also exempt as long as the work that they perform does not require a state license. For example, a licensed contractor might hire a subcontractor to pour concrete. As long as the licensed general contractor is responsible for the subcontractor’s work, the subcontractor will not have to secure a separate license. Subcontractors and plumbing professionals whose work requires state licenses do not fall under this exemption, however.

Unlicensed contractors in Florida

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation is the agency in Florida that is tasked with enforcing the state’s licensing laws. Unlicensed contractors are disfavored under the law, and the DBPR actively prosecutes people who violate the licensing regulations in the state. Several activities are prohibited, including the following:

  • Unlicensed contractor holding himself or herself as having a license
  • Unlicensed contractor using the license of someone else
  • A corporate entity continuing to operate 60 days after the loss of its qualifying agent
  • A Florida licensed contractor beginning work without obtaining a permit

Violating one of these provisions is a misdemeanor for the first offense. Violating one of these provisions for a second time is a felony carrying the potential of up to five years in prison.

Problems from hiring unlicensed contractors

People who hire unlicensed contractors to perform construction work may encounter multiple problems. Unlicensed contractors are not bonded or insured, and they do not have the right to enter into contracts to perform construction work. They also cannot enforce liens against the property to secure payment.

While the penal statutes do not provide a private cause of action against a Florida licensed contractor, administrative remedies are available through the DBPR against unlicensed contractors. The Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act also provides private causes of action when an unlicensed contractor violates its provisions. People may recover actual damages, injunctions, court costs, and attorneys’ fees under this law. Under F.S. §768.0425, people are entitled to treble damages from unlicensed contractors when they suffer harm because of the contractors’ negligence or malfeasance.

Contact United RHG Inc.

Florida’s licensing laws and regulatory scheme for contractors are meant to protect consumers and the public from financial harm. By choosing United RHG Inc., you can avoid many of the problems that can occur with unlicensed contractors. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and to obtain a quote by calling us at 800.219.1447.