In order for a contractor to apply for a building permit or to work in Charlotte County, the contractor must have a valid contractor's license, general liability insurance and worker's compensation insurance. This is for EVERY type of contractor. Just because an individual advertises in the phone book or newspaper, does not mean that they hold a contractor's license. Neither the phone company nor the newspapers verify that the contractors are licensed. Licensed contractors obtain building permits for their work. This work is then required to be inspected by Charlotte County State Certified Building Inspectors which insures the consumer that the contractor has met all local and state building codes.
You can identify a valid contractor’s license issued by Charlotte County since it will have printed at the top of the license the following: Building Department, Charlotte County, Certificate of Competency (a Certificate of Competency is a locally issued contractor’s license). It will also have the contractor’s name, address, company name, expiration date, contractor’s number, and type of license, e.g. electrical, painting, roofing, carpentry, etc.
You can identify a valid contractor’s license issued by the State of Florida as it will have printed at the top of the license the following: State of Florida, Department of Business and Professional Regulation, followed by the contractor’s number, date issued, type of license e.g. general contractor, electrical contractor, roofing contractor, etc., name of the contractor, name of the business, if applicable, and the expiration date at the bottom.
A local Business Tax Receipt (BTR), which replaced the occupational license, is issued by Charlotte County and is not a contractor's license. It is a tax. For more information on the local Business Tax Receipt, please contact the Tax Collector's office at 941.743.1350.
To verify if an individual or company is licensed and insured, you can call the Building Construction Division, Licensing Section at 941.743.1201 between the hours of 7:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, except holidays; or, use our online services to Search for a List of Contractors Capable of Performing Work.
The hiring of an unlicensed contractor is the direct responsibility of the consumer; thus, the consumer is accountable for all outcomes associated with the contractor’s work. This often leads to unsafe and hazardous construction and, eventually, an additional cost to the consumer. Consumers, who hire unlicensed contractors or fail to obtain the required permits and inspections, could be fined or subjected to a quasi-judicial hearing in front of the Charlotte County Code Enforcement Board.
If a permit is not obtained for your job, the possibility exists that the work will not meet the required Building Codes, which could result in an unsafe and hazardous condition. Since unlicensed contractors do not go through the process of obtaining a contractor’s license, they are not aware of the required construction standards understood and adhered to by licensed contractors. This leads to inferior and substandard workmanship.Work performed by unlicensed contractors is often substandard and ultimately leads to costly repairs and corrections that require the service of a licensed contractor. The consumer then ends up paying more for the job than if they had hired a licensed contractor.
If a consumer hires an unlicensed contractor and the contractor or one of his employees is injured on your job site the consumer may be held liable for these injuries. Usually unlicensed contractors do not carry liability insurance for damages to your property.
- Unlicensed contractors may request a large down payment in cash, or a check made out to cash prior to doing any work. They may even offer to drive you to the bank to obtain these funds.
- Unlicensed contractors will ask you to obtain the permit or advise you that you don’t need a permit. If you would just call the County Building Department at 941.743.1201, the staff will be more than happy to advise you whether or not a permit is required for your particular job.
- Unlicensed contractors often will not provide the consumer with a written contract or guarantee.
- Unlicensed contractors will not have a valid contractor’s number on their contracts or advertisements, as required by state and county law.
- Unlicensed contractors often want to do the construction work on weekends.
- Unlicensed contractors may promise you a large discount if you sign up immediately.
- Beware of a contractor who claims to have just completed a job down the street and has materials left over from that job who offers to do the work cheap.
- Beware if the contractor has a post office address with no street address, or gives a local motel as his address.
- Beware of people wanting to do a free home inspection. Always verify that they are a licensed contractor prior to allowing them to do such inspections.
- Beware of people soliciting to do roof repair, asphalt or texture coating of driveways.
- Beware of contractors who want to use your home as a demonstration model.
- Unlicensed contractors usually do not carry general liability or worker’s compensation insurance.
- Unlicensed contractors normally target the elderly, uninformed, young and inexperienced.
- Unlicensed contractors normally use unmarked vans or trucks.
Often, unlicensed contractors will become abusive and threatening when you refuse to do business with them. Call the Sheriff's Office if this occurs at 941.639.2101, or if an emergency, call 911. Call 941.743.1201 if you are approached or suspect you are dealing with an unlicensed contractor.
Do not give a deposit or sign a contract until you have confirmed that the contractor is licensed. Ask the contractor to leave the contract with you and come back the next day. This gives you the time to look it over without being pressured or intimidated. Also, contact the Building Construction Division at 941.743.1201 if you suspect a possible problem or if you would like to check if the contractor has the proper license.
Home Solicitation Sales
Beware of home soliciitation sales whether by phone or door to door sales.These contractors often prey on the elderly. In fact, there seems to be a network of contractors in different aspects of work, such as, air conditioning, roofing, painting, water conditioning sales, etc. that specifically depend on phone and door-to-door sales to conduct their business. (while not all contractors who do phone sales are unscrupulous, when dealing with telephone or door-to-door solicitations, the people should exercise great caution.
These contractors will often have a local phone number that is forwarded to an answering service. A phone call to Contractor Licensing at 941.743.1201, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. will verify whether or not you are dealing with a local or out-of-town contractor.
Once a sale is made to a homeowner, it is believed that the contractors then pass this information onto other unscrupulous contractors who then attempt to have you purchase their services. These contractors will then return to your residence year after year in attempts to have you purchase additional services. Often, they will advise you that they will only charge you for labor and that the materials will be covered under your warranty. The cost of the labor is often as much as the original job.
These contractors will often spend a lot of time with the customer in attempts to gather personal information that can then be passed unto others. They often employ high-pressure salesmen that will not leave until a contract is signed. The high-pressure sales tactics will often include utilizing multiple sales personnel. If you ever feel pressured, advise the salesman to leave. If the salesman fails to leave or you feel threatened, contact the Sheriff's Department immediately at 941.639.2101 in Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda or 941.475.9005 in Englewood.
Rember, you have seventy-two (72) hours to cancel a Home Solicitation Contract. You must send the contractor a letter stating that you wish to cancel the sale. This letter must be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested. Make sure you keep a copy of this letter for your records. In some cases, such as house and roof painting, the contractors will have you sign the contract and they will start work the next day. If this is the case, you are still able to use the seventy-two hour (72) cancellation clause. This division also recommends that you immediately contact the contractor by phone and advise them that you are canceling the sale and that you are sending certified mail advising the same. The contractor is required to refund any deposit.
If you have an questions or concerns contact the Charlotte County Code Compliance Division at 941.743.1201, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., except holidays.
Important Phone Numbers:
|Is a Contractor Licensed & Insured?||941.743.1201|
|Is a building permit needed or has one been issued?||941.743.1201|
|Port Charlotte or Punta Gorda||941.639.2101|
|For Emergencies dial:||911|
To avoid most sales solicitation calls, consumers can register with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). All solicitors operating in Florida, EXCEPT charitable agencies, newspapers, real estate professionals in response to a yard sign or ad, or calls regarding an existing debt or contract, are prohibited from placing calls to numbers on this list. There is an initial $10 fee and a $5 annual renewal fee.
To register, call 800.435.7352 or write to FDACS, Division of Consumer Services, Mayo Building, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0800. FDACS is responsible for enforcement of this law, NOT your local telephone company (paraphrased from page 15 of the Information Pages of the November 1999 Sprint Telephone Directory).
Before You Sign
Always get three (3) bids or estimates before signing a contract or giving the contractor a deposit.
Call the Building Department’s Contractor Licensing Division 941.743.1201 to inquire if a contractor has a valid contractor’s license and insurance.
Each contractor should have a contractor’s number listed on his contract that you can use to verify with the Licensing Division.
Make sure the work to be done is in writing on the contract regardless of how minute.
Make sure all warranties are listed on the contract - not verbal.
Make sure you read all the fine print on your contract and understand same, or ask your contractor to explain before you sign the contract.
Include in the contract that the contractor will supply you with a Contractor’s Final Affidavit (of no liens) when the job is completed and at the same time you give him the final payment.