The Clewiston News

Lee Building Industry Association urges caution following Hurricane Irma

FORT MYERS — The Lee Building Industry Association (BIA) is urging Southwest Floridians impacted by Hurricane Irma to look out for illegitimate unlicensed contractors who may prey upon them.

Unlicensed contracting is illegal, and it can be easily avoided if the appropriate precautions are taken. Lee BIA, a member of the Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), encourages homeowners to follow these safety measures:

• Obtain at least three estimates from licensed and bonded contractors.

• Get the estimate in writing.

• Ask for and check references.

• Ask for proof of insurance.

• Get a written contract.

• Make sure all work that requires city or county inspection is officially approved in writing before a final payment is made.

“Be especially careful when confronting door-to-door solicitors who require large sums of money up front,” said Phillip Ford, Executive Vice President. “Licensed contractors will show proof of insurance and licensure, as well as never ask for payment right away. Homeowners are best served verifying licenses with the State of Florida, since this is an incredibly vulnerable time for their community on multiple levels.”

For a list of reliable licensed contractors, contact the Lee BIA at bia.net. Also, for financial protection, call the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) at (850) 487-1395 or visit www.myfloridalicense.com. Otherwise, to report unlicensed activity, contact DBPR at (866) 532-1440, as well as the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. Additionally, homeowners can report incidents of price gouging by calling (866) 9NO-SCAM.

The Lee Building Industry Association (BIA) is the not-for-profit professional association that represents Lee, Hendry and Glades counties. It is a visible force in the communities where its members live and work and continues to enhance the image of local industry professionals as the concerned, involved citizens they truly are. For more information, call (239) 936-5525. Online at bia.net.