Post storm repair message: Contractor must be licensed in Florida

Many come in to take your deposit and skip town

Hurricane Matthew delivered levels of damage from downed trees to battered roofs to  flooded rooms.

But now who do you hire to fix it?

Orange County’s administrator for the Consumer Fraud Unit said it is all about the contractor’s license.

“He has to be licensed, certified or registered with the county," Carlos Morales told News 6.

Some of the key points to review before you hire a contractor include:  

 Use reliable, licensed contractors. To find out if a person is locally licensed or state certified, call Volusia County’s Contractor Licensing Office at 386-736-5957, option 2, or visit the county’s Connect Live site at and choose the contractor tab.

Get a written estimate. Compare services and prices before making a final decision. Read the fine print. Some contractors charge a fee for a written estimate, which may be applied to the price of subsequent repairs they make.

 Check references. Contractors should be willing to provide the names of previous customers. Call several former customers who had similar work done to make sure they were satisfied with the job.

      Ask for proof of insurance. Make sure the contractor carries general liability insurance and workers' compensation. If the contractor is not insured, the homeowner may be liable for accidents that occur on the property.

Insist on a written contract. A complete contract should clearly state all the tasks to be performed, all associated costs and the payment schedule. Never sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces. Make sure the contract clearly states who will apply for the necessary permits or licenses. Have a lawyer review the contract if substantial costs are involved, and keep a copy for your records.

 Get guarantees in writing. Any guarantees made by the contractor should be written into the contract. The guarantee should clearly state what is guaranteed, who is responsible for the guarantee and how long the guarantee is valid.

Obtain a local building permit. Permits may be required for site work, demolition and reconstruction.

Orlando attorney Louis Gonzalez handles dozens of home insurance cases he told News 6 photographs of the damage are very Important.

You can also search for state-certified or registered contractors by clicking on the “Verify a license tab” at

“Take photographs of the contractor performing the repairs, take photographs of the property after the repairs are done. That's going to be great to show the insurance company the fact that you're doing your duties under the policy and protecting the property from further damage," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said consumers also need to check their insurance declaration page to know your deductible limits and coverage.

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.