Pompano Beach, FL (September 2012) –In the aftermath of the flood and wind damage done by Isaac, Joe Canosa, General Manager of Lindstrom Air, a locally owned and operated business since 1975, encourages homeowners to do their homework and ensure that any contractor they hire to repair damage are licensed, bonded, and insured. Isaac brought as much as 13 inches of rain to Florida and 60 mph winds; thousands of homes sustained damage.
Replacing drywall, floors, cabinets, and cooling and air quality equipment can cost $30,000 or more in the average home. Florida Statute 455.228 states that home improvement contractors must be certified by the State as a General, Building, or Residential contractor. Any homeowner who hires an unlicensed contractor is subject to a fine of up to $5,000 for each offense and is financially responsible for the cost and quality of the work.
“Any flood and wind damage remediation is a major investment. When a disaster hits, unlicensed, unqualified, and unscrupulous people come out of the woodwork to try and swindle victims of the disaster. While homeowners are in a hurry to make their home livable, it’s worth a few hours of research to ensure your contractor is reputable,” cautions Canosa.
Every time a natural disaster strikes, homeowners are vulnerable to lose thousands of dollars to unlicensed contractors. A few of the ways homeowner losses can occur:
- If a contractor doesn’t finish the work or does a poor job, necessitating further repairs, the homeowner will have to pay for the work to be corrected or finished.
- The homeowner may be held liable for unpaid bills to suppliers, even if the contractor has already been paid for them.
- For appliances or heating and cooling equipment:
- Voiding of factory warranties
- Unsafe or inefficient operation
- Shortened equipment life
- Frequent breakdowns
- Building code Infractions and penalties
- Property damage or theft
Homeowners should take some time to ensure that their contractor is licensed and insured, as well as that they are reputable.
- Check with the local Better Business Bureau and local Homebuilder’s Association for the contractor’s history of complaints and resolutions.
- Ask for multiple references and check them.
- Ask for licenses, bonding, and insurance coverage. Call the licensing and bonding agencies and the insurance company to verify. Remember, just because a contractor says they are licensed and insured, doesn’t mean they are. To check a license, call 850-487-1395 or visit MyFloridaLicense.com.
- Get a detailed written estimate of materials and services that are included in the price, including start and estimated completion dates. If a contractor won’t provide one, it’s a red flag.
- Get estimates from three different. If one contractor is quite a bit lower than another for the same work, they may be unlicensed.
There are things every homeowner should beware of, according to Canosa. Watch out if your contractor:
- Is a door-to-door salesman, canvassing an entire area to sell his services.
- Asks you to get the permit for him or tells you your work doesn’t need a permit
- Requires a large down payment or full payment before beginning work
- Has no license number displayed prominently
- Only has an “Occupational License”
- Is licensed in another state but not Florida
- Won’t give you a written estimate or contract
- Cannot provide proof of general liability or workman’s compensation insurance
For more information on Florida’s contractor laws, visit http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/FileStores/Web/Statutes/FS09/CH0455/Section_0455.228.HTM
To learn more about Lindstrom, visit www.lindstromair.com.