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Licensed contractors
Posted September 19, 2016 | 4:51 PM

Selecting a Contractor in Hillsborough County

12 things to know

Whether you're having your roof replaced, an in-ground pool installed, or building a house, you need to hire a reliable, licensed contractor to protect yourself and your investment.
Contractors performing construction-related work in Hillsborough County must be licensed and are required to have a Certificate of Competency.

The County's Code Compliance & Contractor Licensing Section, Building and Construction Services, offers the following tips to residents who need a contractor:

  1. What work do you want done? You'll get a more accurate estimate if you are specific about what work you're requesting and the materials you want used.
  2. Get written bids. Interview at least three contractors. Ask questions, such as: Do I need a permit? How many projects like mine have you done? Get written bids so you're comparing apples to apples.
  3. Do your homework. Request references. Talk to both clients and subcontractors who can tell you if the contractors paid them on time, and also talk to current customers.
  4. Make sure your contractor is licensed. Verify that the contractor's license is up to date for the type of work required. If you hire an unlicensed contractor and something goes wrong, you will have little recourse against them. You can check the status of contractors licensed in the County here.
  5. Make sure your contractor is insured. Make sure your contractor is properly insured, including general liability and workers compensation, at a minimum. If the contactor is not properly insured and something goes wrong while they are working at your home, you could be liable. 
  6. Have a written contract. When you hire a contractor, make sure you have a written contract. The contract should spell out exactly what will be done, the start date, the estimated length of time to complete the project and the schedule for payment or draws, if required.
  7. Study the details. Thoroughly review the contract and make sure you understand it before signing. If you don't have items documented, it's your word against theirs.
  8. The first payment. Don't pay more than 10 percent of the job total before work starts. You don't want a contractor to leave unfinished work and use your money to finish someone else's project.
  9. Negotiate ground rules. Discuss what hours the contractor can work at your home, what bathroom the workers will use, and what will be cleaned up at the end of the day.
  10. Protect yourself. Get lien releases and receipts. If your contractor doesn't pay subcontractors, the subcontractors can put mechanic's liens against your house. Businesses from which the contractor gets supplies also can place mechanic's liens against your property if they aren't paid.
  11. Final payment. Don't make final payment until the job is 100 percent complete, you are completely satisfied with the work, and have all the lien releases and receipts.
  12. Construction fraud. If you believe you are the victim of construction fraud in Hillsborough County, or want to file a complaint against a contractor, you can do so here.