When choosing the right building contractor for your custom home, there are a number of factors to take into consideration; however, arguably the most critical consideration should be the licenses that your prospective home builder carries.
Licensing requirements can vary from state the state. Being that Empire Custom Builders is based in Central Florida, let's take a look at the licensing requirements for the state of Florida.
First of all, the state of Florida requires that all custom home building contractors carry a builder license. This is true for any contractor that is going to provide a paid-for service that alters a property's load-bearing wall.
Types of Building Contractor Licenses in the State of Florida
There are 3 different types of licenses that your Florida building contractor may carry: general contractor license (unlimited commercial and residential properties), building contractor license (commercial and residential properties up to 3 stories in height), and residential contractor license (1, 2, and 3-family residential properties up to 2 stories in height). The builder licensing exams consist of 3 sections and are administered over the course of 2 days. Before applying to take a home building license, Florida law requires that a building contractor provide proof of insurance.
As a homeowner that is wanting to partner with a Florida building contractor, you can feel good knowing that the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board requires all contractor applicants to prove that they are financially responsible and stable prior to applying for a license. This means that the contractor must show that he or she has no outstanding liens or judgements and a FICO credit score of at least 660. If the applicant has a credit score below 660, he or she must obtain a bond or letter of credit from the bank (usually cash secured) until the credit score is at least 660. Applicants are also required to complete a 14 hour financial responsibility course before they are allowed to apply for a license in the state of Florida.
Always Ask to See the Contractor's License Card
When you're considering building contractor candidates, don't be fooled by a business card as that is not a contractor's license. Instead, as a best practice, always make sure to see the contractor's license card that is issued by the state of Florida. When a contractor can produce this card, you will know that he or she has state exam scores and insurance paperwork on file with the state of Florida's Building Department.
So what happens if you don't check to confirm that your building contractor is properly licensed in the state of Florida? Well, first of all, you could be liable for a fine of up to $250-per-permit for any unlicensed activity that is happening on your property. What can be even more costly, however, is if an unlicensed contractor without worker's compensation has a worker that gets hurt on the job site. That means you could be liable for all of that injured worker's medical expenses and loss of wages.
For more about the licenses that your Florida building contractor should carry, contact us at Empire Custom Homes.