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Are You A Contractor? Maybe or Maybe Not

By: Darren R. Inverso

In Florida, it is a criminal offense to engage in contracting work or otherwise act in the capacity of a contractor without a valid Florida contractor's license. Contracting without a license in Florida is a serious criminal offense and can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor carrying possible jail time and fines of $1,000.00 and higher.

On a regular basis, I am asked by friends and clients whether or not the activity they are performing requires a contractor's license, whether they need to register with a local government and how they can be sure that the activities they are performing are in compliance with Florida law. This article briefly defines Contracting, Licensed activities and the difference between Licensing and Registration.

Under Florida law, the offense of "Contracting Without a License" can encompass a broad range of conduct related to the construction industry. Section 489.127, Florida Statutes, provides as follows:

Subsection (f) above is where a lot of confusion occurs. What exactly does "acting in the capacity of a contractor" mean? Well, it depends!!

"Contractor" means the person who is qualified for, and is only responsible for, the project contracted for and means, the person who, for compensation, undertakes to, submits a bid to, or does himself or herself or by others construct, repair, alter, remodel, add to, demolish, subtract from, or improve any building or structure, including related improvements to real estate.

Therefore, unless otherwise exempted, for a person or company to perform any of the above, that person or entity must either be Licensed or Registered. To be Licensed, or a Certified Contractor, you must be able to pass the State Contractor's Exam, provide a proven record of financial stability, and present evidence of your experience for the category in which you wish to be licensed. A more detailed overview of how to become a Licensed Contractor can be found on

For a contractor to be Registered he or she must obtain a local or city license and apply of the initial registration license. Once the contractor has applied to the Construction Industry Board, then he or she may only practice in the specific city or local area where its permission has been granted.

In sum, for any person who wishes to perform improvements to real estate, they should seek professional advice to make sure they are in compliance with all local and state rules and laws. For those seeking to hire a contractor its important to understand the scope of your own project, what requirements are placed upon you as the owner and how best to protect your property and yourself from unlicensed activities.

Darren Inverso is the Owner and Managing Attorney at the Inverso Law Group specializing in Construction and Commercial Litigation, Real Estate Law, Banking law, Condominium Association law, Estate and Probate matters and Creditors rights. He can be reached at (941) 926-6039 or via email at