Buyer Beware: The Importance of Hiring Licensed Contractors and Avoiding Unpermitted Work

Public Health & Safety

During the recovery period from a major storm, reports of unlicensed building activity and unpermitted work generally increase. Don’t fall victim to individuals that may try to take advantage of those in need. Residents should never hire unlicensed contractors and should always ensure that they have the correct permits as they rebuild after a storm.

If you hire an unlicensed contractor and an injury occurs while doing work at your home or business, you may be held liable. If you wish to sell your home in the future, unpermitted work that is discovered by a home inspector or title company may prevent the sale or cost you thousands of dollars in remediation, as well as code enforcement fines. Unlicensed work also carries a substantial safety risk by failing to adhere to building codes. Whether the intentions are innocent or not, completing work without necessary building permits for repairs and renovations puts current owners, residents and future owners, at risk.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Never enter into a handshake agreement; have a contract for the work being performed
  • Make sure the contract has the contractor’s license number; verify the license before payment
  • Visit and to verify a contractor’s license
  • Ensure the name on the license is valid and the license holder qualifies the company they are contracting with
  • Call or email the local permitting authority to verify permitting requirements
  • If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is

Most of the complaints that Orange County receives about so-called contractors backing out of deals and taking money from residents are almost exclusively among business conducted with an unlicensed contractor. To report unlicensed activity, residents can visit the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation My Florida License webpage.

For questions about permitting requirements and contractor licensing in Orange County, please contact the Orange County Division of Building Safety by dialing 407-836-5550 or emailing

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