As Tampa construction lawyers, we defend those in the construction industry against complaints relating to securing the proper building permits for the projects they undertake. In Part 1, we discussed the types of projects that do and do not need permits. In this last article, we will discuss building permits as it relates to owners.
What Owners Should Know
Florida requires construction work to be performed by a licensed contractor; however, there exists an exemption for homeowners acting as their own contractor. Homeowners are exempt from obtaining a license when building or improving an existing residential or commercial construction that does not exceed $75,000. Instructions for applying for a building permit are located on the Hillsborough County website. Always check your local county website to ensure you are complying with building permit rules.
If you find that you must obtain an owner-builder permit, you should know that this permit places you as the responsible party for the construction. This means you are responsible for supervising all work and are financially liable if you choose not to hire a licensed contractor. Signing a permit means that you are liable for complying with all related laws. This includes laws at the state and local level, building codes, and safety codes. You are also responsible for the following:
- All expenses of unlicensed workers
- All expenses relating to payment of workers and suppliers
- Damage to the property during the project
- Anyone that is injured as a result of working on the project
As highly experienced construction lawyers, we always advise owners to hire a licensed professional. A licensed contractor obtaining a permit will make the process easier. If a contractor is asking you to obtain a permit it could be that they are unlicensed, they may not want to deal with potential liabilities, or they don’t want the responsibility of paying workers and suppliers. Remember, as owner, you are held liable for any risks associated with breaking the law.