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Administration Building - Community Development Department
M-Th: 7:30AM - 5:00PM; Fri: 9:00AM-5:00PM
(407) 742-0200
1 Courthouse Square,
Suite 1400
Kissimmee, FL 34741

What to do When Hiring a Contractor

Five Steps to Selecting a Contractor

Most of Florida contractors are hardworking, honest, skilled and dependable. Before you hire a contractor for new construction or home remodeling work, the Osceola County Building Office recommends the following steps:

  1. Ask to see the contractor’s license and write down the license number for future reference. All licensed contractors should present you with a business card that should contain the contractor’s license number.
  2. Get recommendations from friends and neighbors. Use a local, well established contractor. Ask the contractor to give you references. Then call the references, ask questions and take a look at the contractor’s previous work.
  3. Ask the contractor if the company is insured against claims covering worker’s compensation, property damage and general liability.
  4. Get all estimates in writing! Estimates should be very specific and should include exactly what services you’ll be getting for the estimated cost. If a bidding process is used, ensure that the estimated costs are based on the same set of specifications. Get a written contract that specifies all work to be done and make sure a completion date is included on the contract.
  5. Be sure to see the building permit before work starts. The building permit should not be in your name, but rather the name of the contractor. Never obtain the building permit yourself for work being done by a contractor. By doing so, you assume all the risks and it will be difficult to recoup money for inferior work.

Things to do Before Signing a Contract

  • Always get three 3 bids or estimates before signing a contract or giving the contractor a deposit.
  • Each contractor should have a contractor’s number listed on his contract that you can use to verify with the our Contractor Licensing Office.
  • Make sure the work to be done is in writing on the contract regardless of how minute.
  • Make sure all warranties are listed on the contract - not verbal.
  • Make sure you read all the fine print on your contract and understand it, or ask your contractor to explain before you sign the contract.
  • Include in the contract that the contractor will supply you with a Contractor’s Final Affidavit of no liens when the job is completed and at the same time you give him the final payment.

Warning Signs That a Contractor is Unlicensed

  • Unlicensed contractors may request a large down payment in cash, or a check made out to cash prior to doing any work. They may even offer to drive you to the bank to obtain these funds.
  • Unlicensed contractors will ask you to obtain the permit or advise you that you don’t need one. If you call the Osceola County Building Office, the staff will be more than happy to advise you whether or not a permit is required for your particular job.
  • Unlicensed contractors often will not provide the consumer with a written contract or guarantee.
  • Unlicensed contractors will not have a valid contractor’s number on their contracts or advertisements.
  • Unlicensed contractors often want to do the construction work on weekends.
  • Unlicensed contractors may promise you a large discount if you sign up immediately.
  • Beware of a contractor who claims to have just completed a job down the street and has materials left over from that job who offers to do the work cheap.
  • Beware if a contractor has a post office address with no street address, or gives a local motel as his address.
  • Beware of people wanting to do a free home inspection. Always verify that they are a licensed contractor prior to allowing them to do such inspections.
  • Beware of people soliciting to do a roof repair, asphalt or texture coating of driveways.
  • Unlicensed contractors usually do not carry general liability or worker’s compensation insurance.
  • Unlicensed contractors normally target the elderly, uninformed, young and inexperienced.
  • Unlicensed contractors normally use unmarked vans or trucks.
  • Often, unlicensed contractors will become abusive and threatening when you refuse to do business with them.
  • Do not give a deposit or sign a contract until you have confirmed that the contractor is licensed. Ask the contractor to leave the contract with you and come back the next day. This gives you the time to look it over without being pressured or intimidated. Also, you can contact the Building Office if you suspect possible problem.