In 1990, Broward County Commissioners approved a countywide unlicensed contractor program to reduce problems associated with construction work of unlicensed contractors. In brief, the unlicensed contractor program states that any construction work performed in Broward County must be completed by a licensed contractor who has an up-to-date Broward County Certificate of Competency (license) or a State of Florida license.
There are many concerns with the use of unlicensed contractors which ultimately affect you, the consumer. Hiring an unlicensed contractor is a choice made by you, therefore you are held accountable for all outcomes associated with the contractor’s work. Using an unlicensed contractor often leads to unsafe and hazardous construction and additional costs.
The use of an unlicensed contractor may yield the following problems:
- Inability to Receive Inspections: In order to apply for a building permit from any building department in Broward County, a contractor must have a valid license. Failing to get required permits will result in jobs being performed without inspections. Such unauthorized construction leaves you with no guarantee as to whether the construction was performed correctly and is safe.
- Failure to Meet Florida Building Code Standards: Unlicensed contractors can’t apply for a building permit therefore their construction work cannot be reviewed or inspected. This eliminates the opportunity to ensure that the work meets Florida Building Code (FBC) requirements. Failure to meet FBC requirements may result in unsafe and hazardous conditions.
- Substandard Workmanship: As unlicensed contractors do not go through the process of getting a license, they do not know required construction standards which are understood by licensed contractors. This leads to shoddy and substandard workmanship. The review of construction plans and inspections by building departments in Broward County provides that work has been performed correctly and meets the standards of the Florida Building Code.
- Further Cost to You: The work of unlicensed contractors is often substandard and ultimately leads to costly repairs and corrections that require services of a licensed contractor. You may pay more money for the job than if you had initially hired a licensed contractor.
- Fraud and Exploitation: The continued hiring of unlicensed contractors encourages ”roving” unlicensed contractors who are involved in illicit construction practices. These contractors embark on work throughout the county, often taking money for jobs that are never started, not completed or are poorly constructed. Ultimately, you incur the additional expense for such activities.
- Consumer Liability: You are responsible for the hiring of a contractor. Consequently, you are responsible for any damages and injuries incurred on the job site since unlicensed contractors often do not have general liability and workers’ compensation insurance.
- Legal Action Against the Consumer: Since you are held responsible for hiring an unlicensed contractor, you run the risk of being involved in legal action. This legal action may involve lawsuits from various parties due to the unauthorized construction work, thus incurring further cost.
- Code Enforcement Fines: Hiring an unlicensed contractor violates Florida Building Code requirements. This may subject you to fines and the possibility of facing a quasi-judicial hearing in front of a Hearing Officer.
Broward County Code of Ordinances: Chapter 9: Contractors
Broward County Consumer Protection Code
Consumer Complaint Forms
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Federal Trade Commission
Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR)
Florida Division of Consumer Services