Risky Business – Hiring anyone to work on your place.

I originally titled this Risky Business-Hiring After the Storm, and wrote it for the Tallahassee Democrat after Hurricane Hermine, in September 2016. Actually, it applies to any person you ever hire to work on your property.


It’s happening again; it always does when a big weather event strikes somewhere. Someone, perhaps your neighbor, your friends or maybe your parents are agreeing to do business with someone who isn’t licensed and insured for the work needed. What are the clues?

They want to get paid in advance and are asking for at least 50% of the money up front. Don’t pay it. Legitimate companies don’t ask for that much up front.

They say, “You can save a lot of money, if you pull the permit yourself.”

That is a huge red flag; because no real contractor licensed by the State of Florida, would ever ask a client to obtain a permit. It means they don’t have a license and/or the insurance required to be a contractor, in this state. They may not have either one.

But, we all want to save money, right? So, what’s the risk?

You may have to pay someone legitimate to fix poor work, but that’s not the biggest risk. Do these people actually know how to do the work? If they flood your home when they cut a water line or cause a fire with faulty wiring, who will pay for to clean up the mess and repair your home?

Before we discuss more about contractors, please understand this: no one who does work on your home, can do so without a license, whether it’s a roofer, plumber, or general contractor.

Myflorida.com is the website to go to and check out anyone’s license. Anyone can print a business card, but no one shows up at myflorida.com unless they really have a valid license.

Trees a problem? Let’s put this in all caps; ANYONE who is going to work on your property, not just your house, must have the proper insurance. Anyone doing anything for money, needs to have Liability and Workers Compensation Insurance, valid in Florida, to protect you. PERIOD. That Mississippi guy may have great insurance, it just doesn’t extend across state lines.

And this, insurance or lack of valid, enforceable insurance, is where your biggest risk is when you hire those unlicensed and uninsured frauds.

State law says a valid workers compensation policy provides protection from being sued for all medical costs and loss of wages, by workers injured while working on your home. If they’re not covered by workers compensation, the injured worker can sue you to pay for all the injury related costs. Don’t think they are smart enough to sue you? Maybe not, but the hospital’s insurance is going to send a very sharp investigator to find someone who can pay all those medical costs associated with the concussion, broken bones, surgery, rehabilitation and wage replacement which that worker’s injuries racked up. Someone has to pay beside them, and that someone will be YOU, the homeowner.

Liability insurance covers your home, car and other property from damages caused by a company and their workers. So if the tree company you hired successfully avoids your home with that tree, but wipes out your carport with your 3 motorcycles, a generator and your tractor in it, when the tree doesn’t cooperate, you won’t pay to replace all of it out of your pocket, if they have the liability insurance to protect you.

So your biggest risk is hiring someone who doesn’t have up to date Workers Compensation and Liability insurance, valid in the state of Florida.

The biggest red flag, which should alert you, is the low price.

Got several quotations and one is really low? Didn’t your parents tell you if something seems too good to be true, it probably is?

One of the reasons why the price was too low is because someone isn’t paying workers compensation and liability insurance premiums, which those legitimate companies are paying.

When someone gives you an insurance certificate, say thank you. Then go somewhere private and call the insurance company and see if their insurance is currently in force. Many policies have monthly premiums; they may have been insured a few months ago, but if they haven’t keep up with the premiums, they aren’t. Which means right now, they have nothing, no insurance, just forms and you’re taking all the risk.

No one in the construction business, or any other business, can buy materials and pay workers and trades for 20-30-40% less than everybody else. If they could, why would they give you All of the savings? Why not just offer you a 10% discount, to get the job, while they make more money?

If you really like gambling, buy a Lotto ticket or go to a casino, but gamblling your home and family isn’t worth the risk.


Kip Carpenter, 2016 Chairman TBA Remodelers Council
Carpenters Construction Co., Inc., 29th Year
Aurora Award Winner 2013 and
2 Remodeler Showcase Awards 2013, 2014 & 2015
Since 2004 Leon’s 1st Certified-Aging-in-Place-Specialist