Residential Disputes

Whether you’re building a new home, renovating an older home or doing a small remodeling project, there are a number of requirements that must be included in all contracts. In addition, there are other documents that must be prepared. Before starting work on such a project, you should be aware of the following:

  1. The contractor’s license number must be on the proposal, the contract letterhead and any other items other than small promotional items such as shirts, hats and pens. If the contractor has its name on a car or truck, the license number must also be shown.
  2. The contract must include a Construction Lien Notice if the job is over $2,500.00. If this notice is on a separate page, there must a signature line for you on the page.
  3. The contract must include a Construction Industry Recovery Fund Notice.
  4. Before the work starts, a Notice of Commencement must be signed by the owner and recorded in the public records for the county in which the project is located. In many instances, the contractor will prepare the document and record it for you. You need to make sure that all of the information is correct on the form and should require the contractor to provide a copy of the recorded notice. Failure to comply with this requirement will weaken the protection that Florida law provides to homeowners.
  5. The contractor must obtain a building permit before the work starts. While there are exceptions to this rule, you need to check with the building department for your community to ensure that a permit is not required. If you are advised by the building department that a building permit is not required, send the building department a note confirming what you have been told.
  6. Your contractor should have worker’s compensation insurance or a card showing that he/she and any employees/subcontractors are exempt. You can confirm the contractor’s worker’s compensation insurance status at the following web site:
  7. Your final payment for the project is not due until your contractor provides you a “Contractor’s Final Affidavit” stating the work has been completed and all subcontractors and suppliers have been paid or listing those that have not been paid. If you do not receive the affidavit, as well as Final Releases of Lien from all contractors or suppliers that served a Notice to Owner, you may end up paying twice for the same work.
  8. The following rules do not go into effect until April 22, 2010:
    1. If your house was built in 1978 or earlier, your contractor must give you an information booklet on lead paint and have you sign a receipt for the booklet.
    2. If your house was built in 1978 or earlier, the work must be performed under the supervision of a certified renovator using trained workers. Certified renovators will have a certificate or driver’s license style card showing they have completed the certification training.

You should also ask the contractor to complete the “Contractor’s Compliance Form” included on this web site. While all of the items on this list are required by law or regulation, the laws frequently change in this area. This will ensure that you have a contractor that understands and complies with the “rules of the road.”

Finally, you should have an attorney who is experienced in construction law review your proposed contract to make sure it is in accord with your understanding of your rights and obligations on the project.