Picking a Contractor to Repair Hurricane Damage
As Florida residents come to the end of another hurricane season, those who were affected have had to deal with repairing their houses, or, in some cases, rebuilding. One of the beginning steps in this process is also one of the most important – selecting a contractor. As many Floridians know, many contractors from other locales will invade the affected area, especially if the area is extremely hard hit by an intense hurricane, and offer their services. However, and also as many Floridians know, the quality of these companies and individuals is very suspect. Further, their non-local nature means they can easily skip town after receiving payment but before commencing work. Even in cases where a local contractor is chosen, in an effort to entertain more contracts, many contractors may cut corners. Consequently, retaining the services of an experienced construction law attorney can be crucial to ensuring that the contractor chosen not only gets the job done, but gets it done accurately, efficiently, and on time. A recent article briefly highlights various factors to consider when selecting a contractor, and a more thorough discussion of these factors will follow below.
Above all, it is vitally important that all contractors considered for a project be licensed by the Construction Industry Licensing Board, a division of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. While the temptation may be to select either the cheapest contractor or the contractor who is able to begin at the earliest possible time, it can alleviate a lot of issues later if a property owner takes the time to conduct a thorough due diligence in selecting a contractor.
In addition to confirming the licensing of the contractor, it is also necessary to ensure that any contractor considered has a stellar reputation. Various entities, such as the Better Business Bureau, can help in this regard. Additionally, conducting a simple online search can reveal a lot about a contractor’s reputation.
Further, checking a contractor’s references (i.e., previous projects) is another factor to consider when choosing a contractor. Many contractors will provide a list of recent projects, and either driving by these projects, or even contacting the property owners, may shed some light on how the contractor operates.
Contractual Issues, Negotiations, and Payments
Some contractors may desire a gentlemen’s agreement to begin work. However, all construction contracts are legally required to be in writing, and the property owner should insist on this. Specifically, the property owner should want the exact scope of the project and the schedule for the work be set forth in writing, which also sets forth the property owner’s rights. Although many contractors will have a standard, form-based contract that they will expect the property owner to sign without modification, there is no requirement that this be the case. Having an experienced construction attorney at this stage can be crucial to both parties operating on an equal footing.
Additionally, in many construction contracts, property owners may make payments without receiving assurances that subcontractors have been paid for their work. This may lead to mechanic’s liens being recorded against the house. Accordingly, it is important, before releasing payment, to insist on receiving a partial release of any lien for any work performed by a subcontractor, as well as a final release of any lien at the conclusion of the project. Again, an attorney can assist with this issue.
Let Us Help You Today
If you own property which has been damaged by a hurricane, selecting the right contractor to repair or rebuild your property is a task that should not be taken lightly. In fact, contact an attorney experienced in construction law to help you. The attorneys at Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. have years of experience in the unique aspects facing Florida property owners with construction matters, and will guide you along the way to ensure that the contractor charged with repairing or rebuilding your property is reputable, has a clean track record, and meets all requirements for licensing and bonding. For assistance in this regard, contact our Jupiter office today.