Home Improvement Scams

When the need arises for improvements or repairs that you can't do foryourself, many people turn to others to do the work.  Most of the time theresult is a competent and professional job.  But there is a faction ofunscrupulous people out there that will take your money and either leave thejob unfinished or not done at all.

You can avoid many of these pitfalls by using a licensed contractor toconduct home improvement and repairs to you home.  But you should know that acontractor license is not the same as an occupational license.  In Florida,by law, a contractor's license number must appear on any business proposalor contract.  It must also be conspicuously and legibly displayed on thevehicles marked as business vehicles.

Investigators can track down licensed contractors by their number. Criminal charges can be pursued when criminal violations occur and theirlicense can be in jeopardy too.  This is a powerful tool as the loss of acontracting license may be more punishment than incarceration.

Con Artists may...

  • Target the elderly, uninformed, young and the inexperienced.
  • Focus on driveway paving, roofing & painting.
  • Solicit door-to-door claiming to have "just finished a job down the street."
  • Arrive in unmarked vehicles, sometimes from out-of-state.
  • ...more tips

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How to find a Reputable & Reliable Contractor

  • Ask to see their state contractor's license. All state-generated licenses come with a wallet card printed on the same paper stock as the main license. Check that the license you are shown matches the person showing it. Ask to see additional identification if you're still not sure.
  • Determine how long a contractor has been in business. You may wish to check with local building supply retailers. An established contractor with a reputation for using quality materials and paying his or her bills with suppliers is more likely to do quality work for you.
  • Check with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation or local business officials to verify the license is current.
  • Ask for references of persons whom the contractor has done work for and check them out.

Dealing with a Contractor

  • Avoid any contractor who requires advance payment. Arrange to pay after the work is completed or in regular payments.
  • Don't sign the work completion certificate until all work is completed to your satisfaction.
  • Avoid paying cash.
  • If your contract exceeds $2,500, you should be familiar with the Florida Construction Lien Law. A notarized release of lien will help ensure you will not have to face the possibility of double payment or loss of property to unpaid workers.
  • Reputable contractors won't object to reasonable provisions for consumer protection.