Helping consumers navigate Florida’s construction
laws & reach successful project completion!
Do’s & Don’ts
Never make a substantial up front deposit or pay in advance for work that has not been performed.
Legitimate contractors may ask for some money up front for permits and other small start-up costs, but should never ask for payment in advance of services being performed or materials being furnished.
Never hire an unlicensed contractor.
Unlicensed contractors do not carry the insurance required by Florida law and if something happens on your job, you can be held liable. They also have not proven they meet the minimum competency requirements to do the work, which should give you some concern. In addition, you can be prosecuted under Florida law for aiding and abetting unlicensed activity (s. 455.228, Florida Statutes). Find out if your contractor is properly licensed (
Never refuse or ignore your certified mail.
Florida law requires many documents to be served by certified mail. Under Florida’s Construction Lien Law a notice sent to the correct address that is undeliverable or refused is considered “served” so you are only hurting yourself by failing to receive the mail. If you expect to be traveling while your construction is ongoing, consider having someone you trust or hiring an attorney to receive notices and documents and respond in a timely fashion. The Notice of Commencement gives you the opportunity to name someone in addition to yourself who must be served with notices and other documents.
Always have a written and signed estimate or contract.
This includes any changes or additions to the contract, which should also be in writing.
Always make sure your contractor pulls any permits required for the work being performed.
If you are unsure you can call your local building department to inquire whether a permit is necessary. Additions to your home that are not properly permitted can become a real problem if you ever decide to sell your home.
Always complete and record a Notice of Commencement for any project over $2,500
($7,500 or more for heating and air conditioning projects). The notice of commencement is your public notice that you are commencing improvements to your property. It gives you the opportunity to accurately identify your project and persons and addresses where notices and other important documents should be served. This document is notarized and recorded in the Public Records of the County where the property is located. The statutory form can be found under the FORMS tab on this website.
Always get a Release and Waiver of Lien from your contractor each time you make a payment
This is like a receipt that legally releases the contractor’s right to lien your property for work performed.
Always ask your contractor for Release and Waivers of Lien from any subcontractor or supplier who has served you with a Notice to Owner.
If you receive a Notice to Owner let your contractor know and tell him/her that you will need releases from these subcontractors and suppliers each time you make payment. Knowing in advance will give your contractor time to make sure he has these documents.
Always get a Final Contractor’s Payment Affidavit from your contractor when you make final payment.
This is a simple but important final step when closing out your construction project. You can find out more about this affidavit. It is step 4 under the “Lien Free Construction” tab and can also be found in the forms.
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