F A Q
This is the frequently asked questions page.
(Q) Do I need to obtain a building permit?
(A) Yes, a building permit must be obtained for any type of construction work in Florida. If you build without a permit you can be fined and ordered to take the structure down. (In most cases a structure built without a permit does not meet code requirements). You might get away with it for a while, but you will get caught when you try and sell the property or you might get caught by the property appraiser's office. Permits are meant to protect you, the homeowner.
(Q) Do I have to obtain the permit or does the contractor obtain it?
(A) Only a contractor holding a valid trade license (not an occupational license) and a Qualified Business License can obtain a permit. A home owner can obtain a permit as an owner /builder with certain limitations. Unless you are performing the work yourself, you as the homeowner should never obtain a building a permit. You will be liable for the work and you put yourself at risk of being taken advantage of by unscrupulous and unlicensed contractors. CALL YOUR LOCAL BUILDING DEPARTMENT to find out more and to verify if a contractor holds a valid license for that area or go to www.myflorida.org.
(Q) Do I need to hire licensed contractor? What if he/she tells me they are licensed?
(A) Yes you need to hire a licensed contractor; always ask to see their license! in Florida a contractor is required to hold a valid Trade License and the company requires a Qualified Business License. Make sure that it is the contractor's name on the Trade License and the company's name on the Q.B. license. Many people can not get a license for various reasons (it is extremely difficult to get a contractor's license in Florida) and they borrow or forge someone else's license. Would you go to a doctor who had a medical certificate on the wall that had someone else's name on it? Many people have been ripped off by unlicensed contractors in Florida, especially after the hurricanes. Some paid deposits and never heard from the contractor again and those that actually had the work done had to have a licensed contractor take it down and build it properly with a permit.
DON'T DEAL WITH AN UNLICENSED CONTRACTOR!
It is a felony to solicit or perform work in Florida without a valid trade license, you should report any unlicensed activity to the authorities. A City Occupational License is not a valid Trade License...DO NOT GET FOOLED BY SOMEONE SHOWING YOU THIS TYPE OF LICENSE!
You can go to www.myfloridalicense.com to find more information about hiring a licensed contractor.
(Q) Does everyone have to build a screen enclosure in accordance with the current building codes?
(A) Yes and no; the current Florida Building (FBC) does not stipulate how to build an aluminum structure. The code states that the structure should be designed and built in accordance with the Aluminum Association of Florida Design Manual (AAF Manual) or use a Professional Engineer to design it. The AAF Manual is much more conservative than standard engineering practices, because it is prescribed for use by the FBC. We use the AAF Guide for our screen enclosures and we exceed it's requirements.
(Q) How do I determine what company I should hire?
(A) Well price is not always the determining factor. You want to pay a fair price, but you also want a quality job properly built. Why is a Lexus more expensive than a Chevette?
The reasons are quality and reliabilty. The same holds true for screen enclosures.
The best ways to make a determination are as follows:
- Make sure they hold a valid Trade License and a valid Qualified Business License. In Florida the company must display it's license on all literature, vehicles and advertisng.
- Make sure they carry current liability insurance coverage of at least one million dollars. Ask to see a Certificate of Insurance.
- Make sure they carry current Workers Compensation Insurance. Ask to see a Certificate of Insurance. Did you know that most of the companies use uninsured sub-contractors to do the installations? Make sure that anyone working on your property has current Workers Compensation Insurance (WC) and Liability Insurance. Independant sub-contractors should have their own coverages or a WC Certificate of Exemption and Employees should be covered under the companie's WC Insurance
- They should be a member of the BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU; if they are not, ask yourself "why not"?
- Are they members of the ALUMINUM ASSOCIATION OF FLORIDA? Again ask yourself "why not"?
- Ask for a list of references that span a time period from the latest project to one from two years ago. Call a few customers over a two year span and check to see that the company has been consistant in it's performance. This is the most important step in your determination process!
- Make sure all of their equipment is OSHA approved. How do you do that? You ask to see the equipment, it should have labels stating the it is OSHA approved. This part will probably eliminate most companies because they hire unliscensed sub-trades, who use home made walk boards and fiberglass ladders to do the installations. Fiberglass ladders are not approved for use to support walkboards. Most guys build walkboards with the same materials used for the screen enclosure; this is dangerous and illegal. Many people have been injured using this type of equipment. YOU CAN BE HELD LIABLE IF SOMEONE GETS HURT ON YOUR PROPERTY!, just ask an attorney.
Ask how will they building the enclosure? If they say they will build it on site than that means they do not have a proper shop and you should eliminate them from the process. Unless the project is such that it can only be cut to fit on site, you should not have to put up with the mess and the noise of buildingan entire enclosure on your property. Building an aluminum screen enclosure requires precision equipment and jigs, you cannot achive the same level of accuracey by building it in someone's backyard with just a miter saw sitting on the grass! Believe it or not this just how a lot of guys do it and the result is a structure that is crooked and not level.
A Few Rules:
- Always ask for I.D.
- Ask to see their trade license (make sure it is their name on it) and the company QB license, with the company you are dealing with's name on it.
- If someone hesitates to show you their trade license or if someone elses name is on it; don't deal with them!
- Call your local building department
or go online and verify that the company is licensed perform work in
your area. Also check on their history of inspections to see if they
have a lot of outstanding projects without a final inspection because
of problems with the project.
- If someone asks for cash; don't deal with them!
- If someone asks you to obtain the permit; (this means that they do not have a License) don't deal with them!
- If someone tells you that you do not require a permit, don't deal with them!
- If they show up in a truck without the company name and license displayed on it; don't deal with them.
- Check references and go see some of the work.
- Deal with companies that accept credit cards, this is a good sign that they are financialy stable and are legitimate.
- Call your local building dept. and verify that the company has a valid license to do the type of work you want done.
- Ask for Certificates of Liability and Workers Compensation Insurance.
- Check the Better Business Bureau records. Not a member of the BBB? Don't deal with them!
- Are they a member of The Aluminum Association of Florida...you have to ask yourself "why not"?
- Ask a lot of questions and compare the answers with the other people.
- Call your local building dept. to get the proper information about your project.