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Families facing tornado damage warned against using unlicensed contractors

Tornado damage on Water Lane
Posted at 5:31 PM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 06:22:34-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A lot of uncertainty for homeowner Bruce Schulz as he continues to assess the damage done from an EF2 tornado and the resources looking to help him clean up the mess on Water Lane in Fort Myers.

“Some metal recyclers were here and they gave me their card cause they wanted to remove part of the Florida room roof,” said Schulz.

Fox 4 spoke with Schulz outside of his home about the warning from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office advising people to avoid unlicensed contractors looking to do jobs for cheap during their tornado
recovery process.

It's a problem Schulz says he was familiar with even before this last storm.

“I have had an experience here with a contractor who was… or was not licensed..I still don’t know but I did get sued so that was unfortunate,” said Schulz

It’s this kind of experience that just one week ago, on Jan. 11 the city of Cape Coral sent out a warning on Facebook saying it's illegal to hire unlicensed contract workers in the state of Florida.

Courtesy: City of Cape Coral Facebook page

In the warning, city officials said most unlicensed jobs are followed by additional costly repairs - something Paul Barnes, owner of Hawaiian Handyman LLC said he is too familiar with.

“it's going to be up to you to get your money back. Then you are going to have to turn around and spend two to three times what you would have paid them to hire a licensed contractor like myself, to come in and correct the mistakes they made and I'm dealing with it at least once a week,” said Barnes.

Barnes said it's state law for contractors to have their license number on their work vehicle, and he advises families dealing with tornado damage to contact their city licensing division before they sign any agreements.

He also says there are red flags families can look out for.

“Any legitimate licensed contractor is not going to high-pressure sales you. They are going to come in they are going to give you either a verbal or written estimate and say this is my price if you have any questions please get back to me... Bottom line is if you get a price to do a job and it's $30,000 by a licensed contractor and someone offering to do it for $12,000 red flags should go up,” said Barnes.

Contact the City of Cape Coral Licensing Division at 239-574-0430 to verify if a contractor is properly licensed and insured in the City of Cape Coral.

To report an Unlicensed Contractor performing work within the City of Cape Coral call 239-242-3783 or email Cape Coral Code Compliance at