WHEN DO I NEED A BUILDING PERMIT?
Florida Building Code 105.1; states that anyone who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building, structure, impact resistant covering, electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system of which is regulated by the code shall first make application and obtain a building permit.
Construction related activities that require a permit, include but are not limited to the following:
- Commercial Buildings
- Fire Systems
- Single-family residences
- Electrical, Mechanical, Gas and Plumbing
- Swimming pools
- Screen enclosures
- Storage sheds
- Water and Sewer connections to Utilities
- And any other construction related activity.
The City Code of Ordinances also requires building permits for Engineering and Zoning related activities that include but are not limited to the following:
- Site work such as: Land Clearing, Grubbing, Tree Removal and Fill placement
- Signs and Sign Faces. New or replaced
- Driveways: including auxiliary driveways and drainage culverts
- Dewatering and Pool Water removal
- Right of Way construction activities
DO I NEED A CONTRACTOR or CAN I OBTAIN AN OWNER/BUILDER PERMIT?
Florida Statute 489.103 requires building permits to be issued to licensed contractors. As an owner of your property you may act as your own contractor through a specific exemption to contracting law. Owner’s applying for their own permit must fill out an Owner/Builder Disclosure Statement as required by Florida law. There are restrictions and responsibilities the owner assumes when acting as their own contractor. A few are highlighted below:
- An owner may build or improve a one or two family dwelling. An owner may also build or improve a commercial building if the cost does not exceed $75,000. The building or residence must be for the sole use or occupancy of the owner. It may not be built or substantially improved for sale or lease. If a building or residence has been built or substantially improved is sold or leased within 1 year of when the construction is completed, the law will presume that it was built or substantially improved for sale or lease which violates this exemption to contracting law. -- In this instance the laws and rules for unlicensed contractor activity would apply.
- An owner must provide their own on site supervision and you are responsible for the permit and all required inspections under the Florida Building Code. This authority cannot be delegated to anyone who is not a licensed contractor.
- An owner may not hire anyone who is not a licensed contractor. If an owner does hire someone who is not licensed they must work under the direct supervision of the owner and must be employed by the owner, which means the owner must withhold federal income tax and social security contributions under FICA and provide worker’s compensation for the employee. Anyone injured on the owner’s property that is not a licensed contractor will not likely be covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy adding serious financial risk to the owner for any injuries.
- Violations under this exemption to the contracting law is a misdemeanor of the first degree punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 1 year and/or a $1000.00 fine in addition to any civil penalties.
WHAT DO I NEED TO LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING A CONTRACTOR?
Hiring a contractor can be risky. Hiring the wrong contractor can leave the owner with unfinished work, risk from structural failure or fire and substantial financial hardship with little recourse to recover from a bad situation. Licensed contractors have completed requirements for licensure, carry Liability Insurance and Workman’s Compensation insurance to protect the owner from financial harm and liability due to injuries. Protect yourself from liability and financial hardship. Always hire a licensed contractor.
The following is a list of tips to identify an unlicensed contractor:
- The contractor cannot provide a copy of a license or insurance. Licensed contractors must hold a certificate of competency, carry liability insurance and have workman’s compensation insurance. A licensed contractor will be happy to show their credentials. If they cannot produce these documents, they are likely an unlicensed contractor
- If the contractor is unwilling to enter into a written contract. All work should be in the form of a written contract and be signed by the owner and the contractor.
- The contractor asks the owner to obtain the permit instead of them. The owner will assume all liabilities associated with that permit.
- If the contractor request a large down payment or payment in full before the work begins or a request for cash only or check made out to cash. This could put the owner at serious financial risk with little recourse to recover their money.
- If the contractor does not display a license number on advertisements, business cards, vehicles, contracts, etc. The law requires a license number on all forms of advertisement.
- The contractor can only work nights or weekends. This should be a big red flag.
- The contractor tells you that this type of work does not require a building permit. Be aware, if the work requires a permit the owner may end up paying twice if they have to find a licensed contractor to obtain a permit or have to uncover work that was not inspected. Always check with the Building Department at 772-589-5537 to see if the work will require a permit.
To report suspected unlicensed contractor activity, call the Department of Business and Professional Regulations’ complaint line toll free at 866-532-1440, or visit myfloridalicense.com
You can also report suspected unlicensed contractor activity by calling the City of Sebastian Building Department and ask to speak to a licensing representative at 772-589-5537
To find out if a contractor is licensed and insured, contact the City of Sebastian Building Department at 772-589-5537. All contractors that work within city limits are required to be registered with the Building Department, we can check our database to ensure your contractor is up to date.