Protect Yourself: Licensing, Permits and Codes Matter

Whether it’s for a roof replacement, waterproofing project or masonry tuck/point/seal, building owners must protect themselves and the building occupants by ensuring that the contractor awarded the work is appropriately licensed, has the proper permits, and fully understands federal codes affecting the project.

Make sure the contractor you have selected has the proper licenses to perform the work, including a business license. Many states – Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and others – require contractors to pass a written test before being granted a license to do business in that respective state. Several states including Florida require these written examinations for a variety of disciplines – electrical, HVAC, roofing, etc. Also, many states require contractors to accumulate Continuing Education Units (CEU’s), typically every 24 months, in order to maintain their license. To verify a contractor’s status, an owner can contact a state’s licensing board to confirm a contractor’s license is in place and any required CEU’s are up-to-date.

States, counties and municipalities have permit requirements that are specific to their area. And in many cases, projects will require multiple permits from these entities. Prior to starting any work, the contractor should provide documentation to the building owner showing that the required permits have been secured. Also, keep in mind that federal codes come into play in most restoration projects. Contractors must follow OSHA requirements designed to protect workers and building occupants from exposure to hazards. And when hazardous materials are used or encountered during the work, contractors must adhere to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines.

Commercial building owners can protect themselves and building occupants from unscrupulous contractors by using an American Institute of Architects (AIA) contract form which can be developed to have the contractor legally bound with respect to adherence to codes, being properly licensed and securing all necessary permits for the project. And consider that requiring the prequalification of bidders on your project will actually prevent you from wasting a lot of time with potential contractors only to find out that they are not even licensed to do the work.

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