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Code Compliance Division   

Unlicensed Contractors

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UNLICENSED CONTRACTOR
An unlicensed contractor, as defined herein, does not have the proper licensure from either the State of Florida or the City of Cape Coral to engage in the type of work being performed.

In Florida, it is a criminal offense to engage in contracting work or act in a contractor's capacity without a valid contractor’s license. While hiring unlicensed contractors can present a lower cost 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 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 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: 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. The review of construction plans and inspections by building departments 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 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 who are 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 with them, verify that they are Licensed.

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 unlicensed@capecoral.gov.


Licensed Property Maintenance (Handyman) (2)

It shall be unlawful for any person or firm to engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor or subcontractor within the city limits without first possessing a valid and appropriate contractor's license. Any person not having a valid contractor's license while holding themself out to be a contractor shall be subject to the provisions and penalties of this code, and the representations shall be considered prima facie evidence that the person or firm purported to have the authority capacity to act as a contractor. Furthermore, it shall be unlawful for any person or firm to advertise themselves as available to engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor within the city limits without first possessing a valid and appropriate contractor's license. Contracts entered into by unlicensed contractors may be unenforceable in law or equity as a matter of public policy (Ord. 54-89, 9-1-1989; Ord. 70-13, 12-16-2013)


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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 www.myfloridalicense.com, 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: www.MyFloridaLicense.com

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