Consumer Tips During Hurricane Season


June 1 through November 30 marks hurricane season in Florida. Being prepared before the storm is wise, but how can you protect yourself after disaster strikes.

Home and Business Repair & Contractors

One of your most critical post-disaster recovery issues may be the hiring of a competent, licensed contractor. The Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (RACCA) offers the following suggestions:

  1. Watch out for “fly-by-night” contractors who take deposits and do not do any work. Never deal with any contractor soliciting work at your house.
  2. Deal only with licensed and insured contractors. Verify that the license is current and active by calling the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board at (727) 582-3100 or you may call the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (RACCA) at (727) 209-5745. We will check for current license and insurances.
  3. Ask for and check references of previous customers.
  4. Get at least three estimates. Be certain the estimates are itemized and for the same work.
  5. Avoid a contractor who asks for advance payment in full. Pay upon completion or as the work progresses. Always avoid paying in cash.
  6. Avoid contractors who ask you, as the homeowner, to obtain the building permit, or state they can save you money by not obtaining a permit for replacement equipment. Remember, a 3rd party inspection to ensure installation was per building code is a service provided with the permit. It’s for your protection.
  7. Beware of any contractor who tells you that extensive or structural repairs do not require a permit.
  8. Take your time when signing a contract and consider asking a knowledgeable friend, relative or attorney to review it before you sign. Make sure the warranty information is included in the contract.
  9. Require the contractor to supply a final affidavit indicating that all subcontractors and suppliers used on the job are paid in full. Ensure that the work is inspected by the building department before final payment if a permit was required.
  10. Understand that during a declared emergency, anyone who does work without a license may be subject to prosecution for a 3rd-degree felony and fines of more than $5,000. Contact the local licensing board, the State of Florida, Department of Business and Professional Regulation ( or the RACCA office (727-209-5745 or if you encounter anyone soliciting your business that is not licensed.