How to Research a Contractor in Jacksonville
“Better Business Bureau”, click on the BBB link below, and it will re-direct you to their web site. These are the things you want to look for.
- Are they even a member? One would hope that any contractor that truly cares about his business and his customers would be an active member, and use the programs afforded him from the BBB to satisfy his customers.
- Look at the Customer Complaint Data, if there are any complaints, what are they, and more important, did they satisfy the complaint, or is it still outstanding. (This lets you know what you can expect from them if you have problems, will they handle it, or just ignore it).
- Does the company participate in the Membership ID Program, this means the company has agreed to use special BBB procedures including mediation and arbitration if necessary to solve problems.(this is an important membership feature, it shows they are determined to do what’s right to satisfy the complaint, and complete the job, if necessary).
- Have they been in business as long as they said? A person could have years of experience, yet a failure at running a construction business.
Search in the Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) database. You will need to search for the company you are considering hiring, as well as the contractor that represents the business. Here you will find how long he has held a license, and about any complaints.
- Go to the website below. You should have been given the contractors license number (mine is CRC57030), if so, enter the number, then under Additional Search Criteria: Divisions, find Division of Professionals, then Construction Industry Licensing Board, then his license type, certified building, general or residential, will cover most contractors (mine is Certified Residential Contractor). Hit search, you will find the information. My search results will bring up my companies history as well as mine.
- If you do not have the license number, you will need to search by name, either individual or organization. Things can get a little tricky here. If you are searching for an individual enter the name and use the criteria above (A). But if you are using the organization name, you will have to enter Construction Qualified Business.
- If you find no information, most likely the person you are dealing with is unlicensed. If the license number pulls up a name not on their proposal, it may be an unlicensed contractor paying a real contractor to pull the permit for them. Not only is this illegal but the contractor pulling the permit is the one responsible for the job- not the guy that sold it to you.
City of Jacksonville Building Inspection Division. Here’s where it gets fun. You are looking to make sure the contractor can pull a permit, and has built the jobs as he claims.
Under the "Search for" pull down the box and click "Permit". Then "Search by" either Company Name OR License Number. Enter the contractors` information and it will show you all the permits issued by the City of Jacksonville. This is an important source; did the contractor claim to do 100 jobs a year? Confirm it here, you may find he has only 3 jobs in the last year.
Workers Compensation Insurance. Go to the Proof of Coverage Query Page at http://www.fldfs.com/WCAPPS/Compliance_POC/wPages/query.asp Enter the contractors name, or other information that you have, you will find if the contractor has workers compensation is in force.
A customer I gave a proposal called me and told me this story, then hired me to build it right. She hired a contractor that was about $3000 less than my price ($13,000). The contractor started the work and was about 2/3 of the way finished when a building inspector stopped by and issued a stop work order because of no permit. The contractor then pulled a permit and finished the job. On the final inspection (required with all permits) the Inspector failed the job- it did not meet building code because no sheeting (plywood) was present under the siding at the front of the house. The contractor (paid in full by now) could not be found to correct the code violation. She then hired me to come in and fix the problem which involved replacing all of the siding on the entire front of the house at a cost of $6500.00 The end result - she paid $3500 more in the long run, if she had only researched the contractor using these four steps she would find the following:
- The contractor had no history at the BBB.
- He was an unlicensed contractor, who then paid a licensed contractor to pull the permit.
- That licensed contractor involved had pulled one siding permit in the last 3 years.
- The contractor had no workers compensation insurance. Good thing nobody was hurt on the job.