Trust but verify: how to look up a contractor’s license
Jan Haley lives in South Fort Myers for the landscape and lifestyle.
“I love the weather, I love the beautiful flowers,” Haley said.
But she knows with the tropical climate, comes hurricanes. That’s why replacing her broken hurricane shutter was important. She said she called FLA Hurricane Protection LLC to do the job.
“They came out and… [I] decided to go with the bi-fold shutter,” Haley said.
Haley showed us a payment to owner Devin Dobbins for $900 or fifty percent of the job. But, Dobbins didn’t deliver. Haley says she called and texted him, but excuses were the only thing she got.
“I tried taking care of it myself,” Haley said. “But I’m very happy that you guys [WINK News] are helping out.”
To to install hurricane shutters, a person either needs to be the homeowner with the proper permits and drawings, or have a license, which Dobbins doesn’t have.
The “license” number he displayed on his business card is an identification number related to his LLC or business filing. This information does not indicate whether or not someone is qualified to do a job.
Through court records, we found two other people who shared a similar experience to Haley. They’ve both filed civil lawsuits with claims totaling $4,785.00; one is pending and one has a judgment against Dobbins.
While Dobbins refused an on-camera interview, he told us over the phone that he made a mistake and that he’s sorry. He added that Haley will get her check the last week of August, and the other two people will receive their money via monthly installments. WINK News will provide an update if that happens.
“If the storms come – I’ll need it [the money],” Haley said.
Where to find the information
Before hiring someone, consumers should find out if the person needs a license to do the job and who licenses them. Some are issued at the state level, while others can be certified locally.
When it comes to hurricane shutters, it can be both.
For example, Collier County told WINK that a variety of licenses would qualify someone to do this line of work. They include a general contractor, building contractor, residential contractor, aluminum or aluminum specialty contractor and a hurricane shutter/ awning contractor.
In Charlotte County, the licenses that can pull this type of permit include a certified building, certified general, certified residential, certified specialty structure, registered building, registered general, registered residential and local aluminium.
To verify a state contractor, you can search for a licensee on The Department of Business and Professional Regulation site. Closed complaint information may also be posted here.
To verify a local contractor, you can either call the city or county office, or search online.
Lawsuits, like the ones WINK found, can be looked up on the county clerk of court web sites: