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Beware of Construction Fraud

March 26, 2010 - Lisa Goehle
I have over thirty years in social services working with our senior and handicapped population. Many times during these years I have come across individuals who have been taken advantage of and in some cases financially ruined.   It is my hope that these information articles will aid you the reader in being aware of potential trends and scams and remind everyone to be cautious in their financial dealings.
 
Traditionally as the cold weather moves into the Northern states a group of characters also know as “winter” Contractors will move south to continue their scams. These characters will offer such services as recoating driveways, house painting, roof repair and other home repairs. Their “method of operation” involves very poor workmanship and use of substandard materials. Most of these individuals will walk up to your home and tell you that they can see you need some roof repairs or other repairs need to be done on your home. As with all home repairs it is very important that you insure the person doing the repair work is licensed. Roofer, A/C, Electrical, Plumbing are all required to have Florida State license. In addition Lee County requires permits for these same contractors when doing replacement of roofs or A/C units. Be cautious of workers or contractors who are reluctant to go through the permitting and inspection process.   Avoid cash payments and do not pay for the job until it is completed to your satisfaction. A person or contractor who wants money upfront is reason for concern. 
 
The state of Florida requires all contractors to have their state license number on all printed material advertising their company, including their vehicles if their name is on the vehicle.   Don’t be afraid to ask to see a license, after all they are working on your home.   A county occupational license is not a state contractor license.   A county permit must be posted prior to or at the start of the job and remain in place until the final inspection. If your contractor does not have a permit in place you can call the Lee County Building Department at (239) 533-5895 for contractor questions and to inquire if a permit was pulled (239) 533-8329.   To verify if a contractor is state licensed or to file a complaint against a contractor you can call the State of Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations at (850) 487-1395 or go on line to www.myfloridalicense.com. The Lee County Sheriffs Office should also be notified if you have been scammed; their number is (239) 477-1000.
 
Remember a licensed and insured contactor may cost more for a job, but if you settle for a “winter” Contractor or other non-licensed worker you could pay twice as much when you have to hire a licensed contractor to fix a shoddy job. 
 
To comment on this article or to ask questions of Lisa you can reach her at lisajgcomsumerhelp@embarqmail.com , next article is on elder exploitation.

 
 

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