Florida’s construction industry has long been plagued by issues with bad contractors. From shoddy workmanship to outright fraud, homeowners in the Sunshine State have all too often found themselves the victims of unscrupulous individuals and companies. However, over the years, Florida has taken steps to help protect consumers from these bad actors and to hold them accountable for their actions.
The History of Bad Contractors in Florida
Florida’s home remodeling, in-home services, roof repair, and construction industry has a long and storied history, dating back to the days when the state was first being settled. However, as the population and the demand for housing and commercial buildings has grown, and the industry to upkeep and repair those houses and buildings increased, so too has the number of bad contractors. As a result, some of the most common issues that homeowners in Florida have faced include:
Many bad contractors cut corners on materials and labor in order to save money and increase their profits. This can lead to structures that are poorly built and may even be unsafe.
Many bad contractors take on more projects than they can handle, dragging their feet on finishing them. This can leave homeowners waiting months or even years for their projects to be completed.
Some bad contractors make changes to a project without the homeowner’s consent to save money or increase their profits.
Unfortunately, some bad contractors in Florida have been known to engage in outright fraud, taking money from homeowners and then disappearing without doing any work at all.
The Impact of Bad Contractors in Florida
The impact of bad contractors on Florida’s homeowners and communities can be significant. Not only do they often leave homeowners with poorly built or incomplete structures, but they can also cause financial hardships. For example, a study by the Florida Attorney General’s Office found that, in 2019, Florida consumers filed more than 2,000 complaints against contractors with the department, with more than $20 million in reported losses.
This is not only a financial burden for homeowners but also a public safety hazard. Poorly built structures can pose a risk to the lives of the homeowners and the people living in the surrounding area. At one point, nearly 80% of all reported contractor fraud in the US occurred in Florida.
Legislation to Protect Consumers from Bad Contractors
In recent years, Florida has taken steps to help protect consumers from bad contractors. For example, in 2019, the Florida legislature passed a bill that requires contractors to register with the state and to provide proof of insurance and a bond. This is intended to help ensure that only reputable contractors are able to do business in the state.
Additionally, the state has created a website where homeowners can check to see if a contractor is registered and if they have any complaints filed against them. This is a great resource for homeowners who are looking to hire a contractor and want to make sure that they are dealing with a reputable individual or company.
5 Things Consumers Can Do to Help Avoid Bad Contractors
- Research contractors before hiring: It is important to do your due diligence and research contractors before hiring them. Homeowners can check the state’s website to see if a contractor is registered and if they have any complaints filed against them. Check their website. Check their social media. Check their online reviews.
- Get multiple quotes: Homeowners should get quotes from at least three different contractors before hiring one. This will give them a sense of the going rate for the work they need done and help them identify any red flags.
- Check for insurance and bonding: Homeowners should make sure that any contractor they hire is properly insured and bonded. This will help protect them from financial losses if something goes wrong.
- Get everything in writing: Homeowners should make sure that they have a written contract that details all of the work that will be done, the materials that will be used, and the cost of the project. This will help protect them if something goes wrong. Today, most of this is conducted digitally, with digital scopes of work that detail every aspect of the job.
- Trust your instincts: If a contractor seems too good to be true or if something about their offer seems off, it’s best to trust your instincts and look for another contractor.
While the history of bad contractors in Florida is certainly a cause for concern, it’s important to remember that there are many reputable and skilled contractors in the state as well. By taking the time to research contractors, get multiple quotes, and trust your instincts, homeowners can help protect themselves from bad contractors and ensure that their home improvement projects are completed to their satisfaction.