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City of Cape Coral offers tips to avoid unlicensed contractors post-storm

Posted at 7:15 AM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 12:05:04-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — After an EF1 tornado touched down in Southwest Florida Tuesday, many homeowners are recovering both physically and mentally.

Damaged roofs have been left behind from the storm and that’s a recipe for unlicensed workers, promising you a quick fix for cash up front.

There are several ways to know if a contractor is unlicensed but maybe the most telling is if they request a large down payment before work even begins. It is a criminal offense in the State of Florida to engage in contracting work or to act as a contractor without a valid license.

Following Tuesday's storm, our crews spotted signs popping up through the Briarcliff community in Fort Myers offering roof repairs or for free mold inspections. Fox 4 spoke with the owner of a local construction business who says to do your research before hiring a company. He says unless you have an active leak in your roof- or significant damage- there is no rush to sign with a contractor.

If you are hiring a contractor, or someone shows up at your door offering their services, here are a few things you should look for:

  • They are not willing to put a contract in writing
  • They ask you to obtain a permit or say one is not necessary
  • If they ask you to pay in cash or make a check payable to cash
  • They cannot provide proof of insurance
  • They do not display a license number on ads

Here's what you need to know when hiring a contractor:

  • Ask to see a state-issued licensed
  • Look for the contractor's name, license number, address and specialty
  • Get written estimates from several licensed contractors and make sure the scope of work is clearly detailed in the contract
  • Don't sign off until all work is completed according to your contract and all permits have been cleared for approval
  • Avoid paying in cash

There is also an online licensing portal where you can see if a contractor is licensed or not.

You can find more helpful tips online from the City of Cape Coral to avoid unlicensed contractors.