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Code Compliance Division

Unlicensed Contractors

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House Bill 735, The Pre-emption of Local Occupational Licensing, eliminates local government licensing for construction trades. As a result, the City no longer renews or accepts new applications for city licensure. Contractors must be licensed by the state to apply for certain permit types. Certain trades do not require a state license to apply for a permit. Please reference the table below to determine how this change affects your trade and licensing requirements.

Contractors must still register with the City of Cape Coral to be able to apply for a permit for any trade, and they must utilize the EnerGov Customer Self-Service (CSS) portal to apply for all permits.

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As defined herein, an unlicensed contractor does not have the proper licensure from the State of Florida to engage in the type of work being performed.

In Florida, engaging in contracting work or acting in a contractor's capacity without a valid contractor’s license is a criminal offense. While hiring unlicensed contractors can cost less than hiring licensed contractors, the work produced may be subpar.

Working with an unlicensed contractor is a dangerous practice that can leave you with faulty work that may not be constructed correctly. Worse, you could be setting yourself up for additional costs that go far beyond the savings you initially realized.

Many unlicensed contractors operate without general liability and workers’ compensation insurance. This means that if they are injured while on your property, you may be responsible.

The use of an unlicensed contractor may result in the following problems:

  • Inability to Receive Inspections: To apply for a building permit, a contractor must have a valid license. Failing to get the required permits will result in jobs being performed without inspections. Such unauthorized construction leaves you with no guarantee that 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: Unlicensed contractors do not go through the process of getting a license and do not know the required construction standards, which licensed contractors understand. This leads to substandard workmanship. Reviewing construction plans and inspections by building departments ensures 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 the 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 unlicensed contractors to be involved in illicit construction practices. These contractors often take money for jobs that are never started, incomplete, or 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 include lawsuits from various parties due to the unauthorized construction work, thus incurring further costs.

  • 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.

Before hiring a contractor or signing any contracts, verify that they are Licensed and Insured.

Resources to verify if a business or contractor is registered or licensed:
All businesses located within the city limits or businesses located outside of Cape Coral that will be applying for permits will have a business license issued by Cape Coral. This does not ensure they are licensed or insured.
-->Search public records to verify the status of a contractor at 

The State of Florida will issue licenses for all contractors required to have a license.
-->For State of Florida Licensee Search, Filing a Complaint, or Unlicensed Activity, visit

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

City of Cape Coral Ordinance CHAPTER 6:- UNLICENSED CONTRACTING | Code of Ordinances | Cape Coral, FL
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The following activities by unlicensed contractors shall constitute a violation of this chapter:
  1. Falsely advertising or holding oneself, or a business organization, out as a licensee, certificate holder, or registrant;
  2. Falsely impersonating a licensee, certificate holder, or registrant;
  3. Presenting as one's own the license, certificate, or registration of another;
  4. Giving false or forged evidence for the purpose of obtaining a license, certificate, or registration;
  5. Using or attempting to use a license, certificate, or registration which has been suspended or revoked;
  6. Engaging in the business or acting in the capacity of a contractor or advertising oneself or a business organization as available to engage in the business, or act in the capacity of a contractor without being duly licensed, registered, or certified;
  7. Operating a business organization engaged in contracting after 60 days following the termination of its only qualifying agent without designating another primary qualifying agent;
  8. Commencing or performing work for which a building permit is required pursuant to any applicable Building Code provisions without the permit being in effect;
  9. Intentionally furnishing any materially false or misleading information on an application for a permit;
  10. Willfully or deliberately aiding or abetting an unlicensed, uncertified, or unregistered person or entity in the practice of contracting when the person or entity is required to be licensed, certified, or registered according to the provisions of state law or municipal or county ordinance;
  11. As an unlicensed person associated with a contracting firm qualified by a licensee under state law or county or municipal ordinance:
    1. Concealing or causing to be concealed, or assisting in concealing, from the primary qualifying agent, any material activities or information about the contracting firm;
    2. Excluding or facilitating the exclusion of any aspect of the contracting firm's financial or other business activities from the primary qualifying agent;
    3. Knowingly causing any part of the contracting firm's activities, financial or otherwise, to be conducted without the primary qualifying agent's supervision; and
    4. Assisting or participating with any qualifying agent in the violation of any provision of state law or county or municipal ordinance.
  12. Willfully or deliberately disregarding any municipal ordinance relating to unlicensed, uncertified or unregistered contractors. 
  13. Advertising to the public in any publication, transmission, business card, pamphlet, telephone directory or otherwise that he is a contractor, is qualified to engage in business as a contractor, or that he will perform work in a trade regulated by Florida Statutes, as they may be amended from time to time, without being duly qualified to so act.
  14. Submitting an advertisement to any publisher for placement in any publication which is generally circulated, displayed, distributed or marketed within the City of Cape Coral, which advertisement identifies a person or entity offering services regulated by Florida Statutes or the City of Cape Coral Code, as they may be amended from time to time, unless the advertisement includes a certification or registration number issued by the state or by the city to that person or entity offering to perform the services in the advertisement.

Florida Statute 489 - Construction Contracting

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warning signs (1) - Copy
Warning Signs that a Contractor may not be Licensed:
  • They are not willing to put a contract in writing.
  • They ask you to obtain a permit or say the permit is not necessary.
  • They request a large down payment before work begins.
  • They ask you to pay in cash or make a check payable to cash.
  • They ask you to make a check payable to an individual, instead of a company name.
  • They cannot provide proof of insurance.
  • They do not display a license number on advertisements.
  • They are only willing to work on weekends

Tips for working with a contractor
Tips for Working with a Contractor
  • Ask to see a state-issued license, which should list the contractor's name, license number, address and specialty.
  • If a contractor has multiple employees, ask for the contractor's general liability and worker's compensation insurance policies.
  • Get written estimates from several licensed contractors. Make sure the scope of work for the job is clearly detailed in the contract.
  • Ask for references.
  • Review contracts carefully before signing and ask questions.
  • Avoid paying cash.
  • Avoid any contractor who requires full payment in advance. Arrange to pay after the contractor completes the work or in agreed-upon installments.
  • Don't sign off that work is completed until all work is finished according to your contract, and the contractor has cleared all permits with final inspection approval from the building department.
  • Most jobs require permits. Check with the building department regarding permits needed for your project.

check to see if a contractor is licensed

To check a license, visit, Click “Verify a License” or call the City’s Licensing Division at (239) 574-0613.

report unlicensed contractors

Unlicensed contracting activity is a crime that negatively affects the health, safety, and welfare of our community. To report Unlicensed Activity contact the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation at (866) 532-1440.

To verify a contractor's license, or to file a complaint against a contractor call the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at (850) 487-1395 or go to the Department's website:

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