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The Contractress Presents...Using state website to find good contractors

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With hurricane season in full swing, I am often asked to give presentations about how to find and properly contract with contractors for post-hurricane repairs. Sometimes I am invited by local government to participate in hurricane readiness events; other times senior citizens groups, as well as crime prevention organizations, contact me.

Because the aftermath of hurricanes can lead to a shortage of competent and qualified contractors, I suggest that people stockpile contractors as well as canned goods. A contact list of contractors is as important as the contact information for your insurance agents, doctors, and family members because you need to act quickly after disaster strikes.

You are well served to create a list now because it takes time to verify contractors’ credentials. The first step is to determine your state’s requirements for professional licensing. Some contractors, such as flooring contractors, may not require professional licensing while other contractors will. Electricians, plumbers, and mechanical contractors frequently require a license.

Once you determine your state’s requirements for licensing, you can check a contractor’s license status in the state’s database. Workers’ compensation requirements and coverage details are also available on state websites. To ascertain a contractor’s character, you may want to visit your Clerk of Court website, which generally allows for a search of online records. These are basic steps that should be performed before you compile your list of contractors.

During my presentations, I demonstrate how to use Google to access state websites. I emphasize the importance of using accurate search words such as “state of Florida professional license” in contrast to less precise phrasing such as “Florida building license.” It is also important to read the search results before you navigate away from the search results page because it is unproductive to visit a private website that does not have accurate and up-to-date information. Attendees always enjoy viewing Clerk of Court records because they are generally unaware that legal records are available for public viewing. These records may reveal surprising aspects of a contractor’s character.

Enjoy the clip of my live presentation at the Orlando library.

 

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