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Use caution when hiring, builders’ group urges

This artcle regarding licensed contractors appeared in The Palm Beach Post. Just because a business is “licensed and insured” does not mean that it can legally perform the services they offer. Every business in Palm Beach County must display a Business Tax Receipt, formerly known as an Occupational License, which gives the right to conduct business from a specific location. These receipts have a 9 digit number beginning with the year it was issued and followed by five more digits.



If you are purchasing installed cabinetry the business must also have a Contractors Certificate of Competancy. This certificate begins with the letter U followed by 5 numbers. Licensed general contractors may also install cabinetry.  Before starting any construction project, make certain that your contractor has the proper licensing.

 

By Toni-Ann Miller   Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011

 

Show me the number!

That’s what homeowners should be asking anyone they want to hire to do work, according to a builders association’s new campaign.

Here’s the scenario: You have work to be done around the home, and you find someone willing to do it for a reasonable price. He’s already doing work for someone down the street, so he’s right there.

You agree to pay this person for services, but then a month later you realize it wasn’t done properly, and now you have to pay to fix what the initial person was supposed to take care of.

So how can you protect yourself?

The Gold Coast Builders Association partnered with Palm Beach County’s Contractors Certification Division to launch “Show Me the Number,” an awareness campaign for homeowners.

The campaign encourages consumers to verify that contractors are licensed and have valid insurance before allowing them to work on the consumer’s property.

Call the county to verify the license number, call the insurance provider to verify coverage and get multiple quotes, campaign organizers say. You can even call the Gold Coast Builders Association to see whether the contractor is registered.

A commercial is posted on the association’s website (gcbaonline.com/advocacy). Executive Director Chris Roog hopes the public service announcement will begin circulating on local stations by the end of the month.

“The goal of the campaign is to educate the public about he importance of hiring a licensed and insured contractor,” Roog said.

He said the idea came about at the association’s board of directors meeting. The board discussed a national news story in which a contractor told consumers they did not need to hire licensed contractors to do work around the home, because they could do it themselves.

The association considered the repercussions of injuries and unfinished work by unlicensed workers.

“It is a major problem, the fraud that is taking place, and the problems that consumers are having in this is huge,” said Ron Yuter, association president. “We get a lot of complaints.”

In addition to asking to see the contractors’ license number and proof of insurance, you should ask for references, Yuter said.

Kirk Angelocci owns Mickey’s Plumbing in West Palm Beach and Statewide Plumbing in Boca Raton. He has been a plumber for 37 years and agrees with Yuter.

“I’m a firm believer on reference,” Angelocci said. Also, “Go to the Better Business Bureau, pull up their name.”

Angelocci said his business has had to respond to many calls from people who went with unlicensed plumbers but had to eventually call in licensed workers to do the job properly.

It’s getting more common with the current state of the economy, he said.

“People think they’re getting a good deal hiring someone who’s not licensed,” Angelocci said. “Not only are we licensed, but we have an inspector that comes behind us.”

That points up one of the main problems, he said. An unlicensed contractor cannot pull a permit, so he or she cannot set up an inspection once the job is completed.

Boca Raton resident Carol Weinstein is excited about the awareness effort. She hired a company to replace her roof in 2009, and after making three $5,000 payments, she asked the contractor if she needed any more papers. He said he’d be back with them.

“He never came back,” Weinstein said. “I had no idea in a million years that I had to get an affidavit from the builder that he’d paid his subcontractors.”

It turned out that the contractor was using his friend’s license to do work, and he had not paid the tile company he used to repair Weinstein’s roof.

The tile company sued Weinstein, who paid nearly $3,000 in a settlement.

She wishes there had been more awareness for the consumer when she was looking for roofing contractors.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Weinstein said. “It’s a good thing that they’re notifying the public.”

Contact Info

 1201 U.S. Highway One Suite 29 North Palm Beach, FL 33408

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