How to protect yourself
Protect yourself by avoiding unlicensed contractors. Volusia County is committed to protecting its residents from unlicensed contractor activities and scams. Volusia County has adopted an ordinance that enables the county's staff to write citations imposing fines against violators in the unincorporated area of Volusia County. Working without the proper license is against the law. Be aware of what can happen if you 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 found on this website. Unlicensed activity searches can be performed at the DPBR website.
A Handyman is not a licensed contractor and cannot obtain building permits. If you want to find out if an individual is properly licensed, please call Volusia County Contractor Licensing at 386-736-5957, option 2.
Don't Get Stung brochure
This brochure gives some basic information on unlicensed contractors and what to look out for.
Warningsigns of an inlicensed contractor
- If a large down payment is requested before the work begins, you might be at risk. Only partial payments should be made until work is completed. Many requests for money are made during early phases of construction.
- If you are asked to pay in cash or make your check payable to an individual or "cash" instead of a company name, you may be dealing with an unlicensed individual.
- If you are told the job does not require a building permit check with your local building department before proceeding. Almost all projects and repairs require permits.
- If the contractor is willing only to work on weekends and evenings, it may be a sign the person is an employee who is moonlighting without a license.
- Be wary if someone other than the person or company contracting to do the construction work obtains the building permit or you are asked to obtain the building permit. If you do so, you will be responsible for complying with the Florida Building Code and for workers injured on the job. (Your standard homeowners insurance does not cover injuries to workers on a jobsite).
- Contractor displays only a Business Tax Receipt. (A Business Tax Receipt is not a license to perform contracting work.)
- Newspaper/flyers or yellow page ads where only the telephone number appears and there is not a license number.
- License numbers are not on the vehicle, business cards, contracts, flyers, newspaper or yellow page advertisements.
You, the homeowner, can also ASK QUESTIONS
- Ask what type of license they have. The license should be issued from Volusia County, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation or other appropriate licensing authority.
- Ask to see a copy of their license. In order to lawfully engage in contracting, a contractor must be either State Registered, State Certified or Locally Licensed.
- Ask for a copy of their liability and workman's compensation exemption or insurance. Licensed contractors must have general liability and workers compensation exemption or insurance in force at all times.
- If using a small, independent contractor, request to see a professional license and a driver's license. The names should be the same.
When hiring a contractor
- Anyone claiming to be a licensed "handyman" is not telling the truth; there is no such license. If they are doing structural, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, roof or similar repair tasks on your home without a county or state license for those trades, they are doing unlicensed work.
- Obtain estimates from at least three contractors. They should specify such items as the quality and type of materials to be used and how long it will take to complete the work.
- Don't choose a contractor based on price alone. Ask for references and how long a contractor has been in business. Check out work the contractor has done for others.
- Check if your contractor has any unresolved complaints, and if his or her license has ever been revoked or suspended. To check if a construction company is incorporated with the state and for how long, go to www.sunbiz.org. Check the Better Business Bureau's website for any complaints filed against the company. www.bbb.org.
- Get any proposal, contract or agreement in writing. Be aware if your contractor fails to pay his suppliers or subcontractors, you may be liable. To prevent this, get a written "release of lien" from the contractor before making a lump sum or final payment for any work.
Remember a business tax receipt is not a license to perform contracting work. If in doubt, you can always call us at 386-736-5957, Option 2.
Homeowners who hire unlicensed contractors face several potential 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.