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Companies calling on Cape Coral to crack down on unlicensed contractors

Posted at 10:53 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 22:53:46-04

CAPE CORAL — Contractors in Cape Coral are calling on the City to do more to crack down on unlicensed handymen.

They say a large portion of their business is being lost to people who aren’t licensed with the City.

Paul Barnes, who owns "The Hawaiian Handyman" company, addressed Cape Coral City Council about a problem he said is growing out of control.

"I’ve lost dozens of jobs since getting my contractors license in March," said Barnes.

Whether it’s painting, paving, building, or installing, contractors say there are people willing to do the work for cash, without a permit.

"One in three jobs I go to bid, someone I’m competing against is unlicensed for sure," said Bryan Greenwell, the owner of Greenwell Painting, Inc. He said companies like his have insurance and pay into workman’s comp, something unlicensed vendors aren’t doing, and it’s putting homeowners at risk.

"If you try to cut corners with something like that, you could find out the hard way when a major storm happens," said Greenwell.

"If they do it poorly and we have a hurricane, those windows give, a child dies from flying glass, a roof pops off," said Barnes.

Council Member Dan Sheppard agreed with Barnes, calling on the City Manager to investigate the problem.

"They’re literally advertising on social media, so they’re not even hiding. They’re right out in the open," said Sheppard during the meeting Wednesday.

Barnes said unlicensed contractors are often posting in Cape Coral community Facebook groups, and on other social media platforms. He said you can often tell because the post will just say to call a person and list a phone number, instead of providing a link to a legitimate business.

But Greenwell said, the first step to avoiding fraud is with the homeowner.

"Ask about if they’re licensed and insured and if they can supply the homeowners with that information. Ask if they offer any sort of warranty on their work," said Greenwell.

Shortly after the meeting Wednesday, the City posted information on its Facebook page about how to avoid using an unlicensed contractor. The City recommends you call (239) 242-3783 if you believe you have become a victim.