Verify A Contractor’s License

The DeSoto County Building Department cares about our customers and advises them to use only licensed contractors. The cost of buying and owning a home is probably the biggest investment made by most people in their lifetime. Most unlicensed contractors are not bonded or insured and do not pay into the residential contractors' recovery fund or pay any unemployment compensation for their workers.  This is why they can often underbid the licensed professional.  Florida Statute 489 requires contractors to be licensed.  Hiring an unlicensed contractor is a violation of Florida Statute 455.228 and is subject to a fine of up to $5,000.
Here are some helpful tips when choosing a contractor:

  • Avoid paying cash.
  • Avoid any contractor who requires full payment in advance. Arrange to pay after the contractor completes the work or in agreed-upon installments.
  • Don’t sign off that work is completed until all work is finished according to your contract, and the contractor has cleared all permits with final inspection approval from the building department.
  • Before you hire a contractor, ask to see a state-issued license.
  • An occupational license does not qualify an individual to act as a contractor.
  • Ask for references. A legitimate contractor will be happy to provide you with the names and contact information of recent customers.
  • Get a written estimate from several licensed contractors. Make sure the estimate includes the work the contractor will do, materials involved, the completion date, and total cost.
  • Beware of contractors who claim to be the fastest or the cheapest. Hiring them could result in poor workmanship, inferior materials or unfinished jobs.
  • Contact your insurance agent first to verify your insurance covers the repairs before you sign a contract. Know the steps to file a claim. You do not have to tell the contractor how much your insurance company will pay for repairs, but if you do, get the contractor’s estimate first.
  • A contractor must have a license from the Florida Department of Busi­ness and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to perform roofing repairs or replacements, structural additions, air conditioning repair or replacement, plumbing work, electrical and/or alarm work. These jobs typically require a permit. Be sure to check with your local building department regarding permit requirements for all of your projects.
  • DBPR does not license or have jurisdiction over concrete contractors, painters, drywall contractors, cabinetmakers, tile installers, or anyone doing minor repairs. Check with your local building department regarding licensure requirements for these trades.
  • Most jobs require permits. Always check with your local building department regarding permits needed for your project.

To verify a contractor’s license, or file a complaint against a contractor, call 1-850-487-1395 or go to DBPR’s website:
Report Unlicensed Activity Toll-Free at: 1-866-532-1440