A holder of a general contractor’s license performs many functions in a building project. They lay out the overall plan and manage schedules and timeframes. Licensed general contractors in Tampa, FL coordinate the proper sequences of the project components. The general contractor is responsible for subcontractors, suppliers, equipment rental, and materials. As project managers, they also are responsible for taking care of all documentation, such as pulling permits and filing Notice of Commencement.
Some general contractors will wait until after a project has commenced pulling building permits. Other general contractors will negotiate with the property owner to have the property owners pull the contracts. Neither course of action is advisable.
Here are several reasons why it is unwise to delay pulling building permits in Florida until after a project has started.
- Excessive fines could be levied against the general contractor or property owner. Starting and running a construction job site without proper permitting and notices can lead to excessive fines. These fines may be many times the actual cost of the permits that now must be pulled anyway.
- A cease and desist order may be issued that could end up with a court date to determine who was responsible for pulling the permits, why the responsible parties did not pull the permits, and who is going to pay the fines and job overrun costs. Sound messy? It is. In the final analysis, the property owner bears the burden either directly or indirectly. There are no winners when avoiding, delaying, or ignoring permitting requirements.
- Redo orders could be issued. Building inspectors must be confident that what is under the ground, behind walls, encased in conduit, or hidden under insulation is up to code. If they cannot see it, they will not approve it. The materials or job must be uncovered, exposed, or be redone. The direct and indirect costs of this delay can turn positive margins into real losses.
- Inspectors will lose confidence in the contractor, his subcontractors, and the entire project. Trust is foundational for a positive relationship between the inspector and the project manager. Building inspectors can make life miserable for general contractors, project managers, flippers, and property owners who subvert the system. This loss of trust can lead to project delays, cost overruns, and bankruptcy.
- Operating a job site without having pulled the correct permits first, can lead to criminal charges. Depending on the city and county, multiple permitting infractions can result in a misdemeanor and even a felony charge and conviction. General contractors who seek to skirt the system may lose their GC license, get sued, or even end up in jail.
- Aside from safety risks and hefty fines, projects that come to completion without the necessary permits can jeopardize coverage and elevate premium rates. This can also lower the resale value of the project and maybe even turn off prospective buyers.
If a general contractor offers to knock $50 to $100 off the price of the job for every permit the homeowner pulls, it could very well indicate that the GC does not have insurance. By pulling the permit himself, the homeowner is, in effect, declaring that the job is a DIY, and the homeowner is practically acting as the general contractor.
The irony in the situation is that the homeowner pays the same permit fee as the general contractor. So, there are no real savings on the project, and the homeowner is out the time, travel expense, and inconvenience of having to fight traffic to pull the permits.
When the homeowner pulls the permits in place of the general contractor, the homeowner assumes liability for any injuries that might occur on the job site. Roofing is a good example of how bad it can get. The insurance rates in this industry are very high. It makes it almost impossible to function legitimately. One Florida building inspector described a case of an uninsured worker who was injured when he fell off of a ladder. The worker sued the homeowner and won $65,000. The homeowner saved a few dollars on the job from the contractor, but the distraught homeowner eventually lost his home.
General contractors should pull permits and file notifications before the project begins. They are best able to navigate the forms and any questions the inspectors might pose. Failure to do so could result in excess fines, project shutdown, license suspension, felony charges, and reduce the overall value of the project and drive away prospective buyers. In short, waiting to pull necessary permits until after a project begins could be catastrophic.
For more information about acquiring a Florida contractor’s license requirements or to learn about how to become a contractor, contact Contractors Reporting Services in Tampa, FL by calling (813) 932-5244.