By NewsLine Staff

St. Johns County residents are urged to stay vigilant throughout the recovery proceswhen hiring contractors to repair home or business damage due to Hurricane Matthew. For tips on how to protect yourself from contractor fraud, refer to these tips or visit the State Attorney General’s site at To report fraud, call the State Attorney General’s Fraud Hotline at (866) 966-7226.

• Be wary of anyone who approaches you unsolicited or says they can perform your repairs at a discount.
• Get multiple estimates.
• Verify that the contractor has a license from the Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) or your county construction licensing board.
• Research the company and its reputation – ask for references.
• Check for proof of insurance and/or bonding and verify their policy is current.
• Never pay the full amount of a repair up front and give consideration before providing large deposits. Florida law requires a contractor to apply for a permit within 30 days and start work within 90 days if he collects more than 10 percent of the contract up front.
• Read the entire contract, including the fine print, before signing and ensure that the contract includes the required “buyer’s right to cancel” (within three days) language.
• Homeowners may unknowingly have liens placed against their properties by suppliers or
subcontractors who have not been paid by the contractor. If the contractor fails to pay them, the liens will remain on the title. Insist on releases of any liens that could be placed on the property from all subcontractors prior to making final payments.
• Do not sign a certificate of completion or make final payment until you are satisfied with the work performed.

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