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You’ve seen the news…”20 Unlicensed Contractors Arrested in Tampa Area Sting.” And that’s just one story…one of many. Unfortunately, unlicensed contractors are becoming a real issue all over the country, including right here at home in the Tampa Bay area. You, the consumer is the one who often gets the short end of the stick in this with shoddy work, no guarantees, and paying for work that may never be done.

This has become a real issue especially in the aftermath of the severe storms of late. Police sting operations like “Bring Down the House, ”Operation Flush Out,” and “Drop the Hammer,” to name a few, appear too often in the news headlines. And that means that consumers have been scammed and are paying the price.

Florida requires contractors to be licensed and to carry insurance. Because of this, licensed contractors are held to a standard of quality and service. If they fail or fall short, they could lose their licenses and insurance. They value their reputation and know that they have a lot to lose if they lose their license or insurance, so they perform the job professionally. So why are so many consumers hoodwinked into using unlicensed contractors? Price.

They are romanced by a much lower price and don’t consider the possible future consequences.

In reality, going with an unlicensed contractor can end up costing many times more than if a licensed contractor was initially used. Contractors that aren’t licensed save on a lot of expenses and can pass it to the customer. They aren’t faced with a high overhead, license fees, insurance, workers comp and more. That lack of professionalism alone should send up a red flag to the consumer. Here are more reasons to avoid non-licensed contractors:

o If you run into a problem with the contractor, you may not have the same legal recourse you would if they had been licensed
o If damage occurs, you most likely are financially responsible to fix it
o If the contractor, or one of their helpers gets hurt, you assume liability for medical bills
o If the project doesn’t meet code, you are responsible for paying to bring it up to code
o If subcontractors are needed, you are responsible for paying for them

Remember the adage “You get what you pay for.” You want quality work done in a reasonable amount of time – hire a licensed contractor!