It is common to see workers on residential roofs in Miami-Dade County without harnesses or fall protection. Often, these workers are operating under owner/builder permits, which are applied for and obtained by the homeowner. When something goes wrong, many workers are not aware that they may have a claim against the homeowner, in addition to the contractors who hired them
Owner/builder permits are a special type of permit that allows a property owner to perform work on their own home. Unlicensed and uninsured construction contractors commonly request that homeowners apply for these special permits as a way to avoid providing proof of licensure and insurance to the government. When homeowners go along with these requests, they are often placed in bad situations, dealing with angry inspectors, unhappy laborers, and potential lawsuits.
For a homeowner to obtain an owner/builder permit in Florida, they must sign a disclosure that contains several important statements. The disclosure warns homeowners that they may not be able to use resources provided by the State of Florida to file complaints against shoddy work by contractors, warns that homeowners may be responsible for injuries to workers on the job-site, warns that homeowners insurance may not provide coverage for injured workers, and warns that homeowners may be responsible to members of the public who are injured by the unlicensed work. Homeowners also sign a statement certifying that they will personally supervise the construction project.
Florida law makes homeowners responsible for all aspects of construction when they are an owner/builder, so it is important to understand construction before applying for these permits. Signing the disclosure and permit application with the intention of using unlicensed and uninsured contractors to perform the work may also expose the homeowner to claims of fraud. That is why it is very important to consult an attorney before entering into these agreements with shadowy contractors.
If you or someone you know is a homeowner, conducting construction under an owner/builder permit, or a worker that is working at one of these job-sites; Roberts and Durkee can help navigate the complicated legal and regulatory rules.
by C. David Durkee