Bad Contractors Continue to Plague Florida Homeowners

Buyer, beware. There are still a lot of Florida contractors out there who are neither properly licensed, nor properly insured. Lakeland police just arrested 8 of these bozos.

Only one of the contractors in this case had workman’s compensation insurance. And he was still unlicensed!

Meanwhile, in Hillsborough County, a scammer promised a roof repair, only to run off with $900. That’s the homeowner we know about, but we’d be very surprised if Terry Lacoste hadn’t done this to other homeowners, too.

Sadly, Lacoste was licensed. He’d just gotten himself licensed over and over and over again under a bunch of different names. After abandoning jobs or getting sued for whatever reason he just picked up, moved on to a new suburb, changed his business name and got right back down to “business.”

People like Lacoste are able to do this because the Florida licensing authorities do not have the resources to investigate problems, even if there are outstanding legal judgements.

In short, crappy roofers are everywhere. Here are the steps you need to take to protect yourself.

  • Check their license. Go to http://myfloridalicense.com.
  • Ask for proof of insurance. Remember, if a contractor is not properly insured then you are liable if someone gets hurt on the job. Roofing injuries can cost $250,000 or more after all of the medical bills, lost wages, and other costs are added up. This means you could lose everything.
  • Do not hand anyone cash or a check up front. Yes, some reputable roofers do ask for deposits. No, you should not pay them with cash or check. You should pay with a credit card so you can dispute the charges if you have to.
  • The contractor is the one who is supposed to pull the permit, period. If they won’t, it’s because there is something wrong with their license or their insurance.
  • You should always have a written contract. Do not “do business with a handshake.” A handshake will not hold up in court.
  • Keep a copy of said written contract. You may need it later.
  • Remember, if a contractor can’t get licensed it’s probably because he does not know what he’s doing. Thus, you will not save money by choosing him and his rock-bottom rates. Instead, you’ll create an expensive problem. You’ll have to pay someone reputable to solve that problem later. You probably will not get any recompense for the shoddy work.
  • Use sites like http://sunbiz.org to check whether or not the contractor routinely changes his business name. Obviously, if he does, it’s a bad sign.
  • Check reviews. Don’t do business with anyone who does not have a long-standing, positive track record of success.

If you’ve already been burned there is a little bit of good news. Florida does have a fund for people who have been screwed over by bad contractors. However, you do have to meet their eligibility requirements. Click here to find out if you can recoup some of your losses.

By the way, our license number is #CCC1330640. We’ve been in business since the year 2000, and we’ve always been Done Rite Roofing.

Image credit: Lakeland PD