The state of Florida requires that a contractor have a state certified license prior to repairing or installing low voltage lighting. It is enforced with fines and jail terms for those caught doing business without a license. It goes so far as to say that the homeowner can get fined for using a contractor without a license and not reporting them to the DBPR (Department of Professional Business Regulations). This is a serious problem, especially in Orlando.
Almost every landscaper across the area does, or tries to do low voltage lighting. 99% are illegal and place the homeowner in jeopardy. This does not mean they are bad folks at all. In fact, most of whom I have met are good folks. Most are just trying to feed families and put bread on the table, especially with how the economy has been for the last several years. However, there are a lot of folks out there that do not care what the law is, they know what the law is, and decide to deceive the public anyway. We have about 20,000 competitors and I would guess that 90% plus do not have a license to do low voltage lighting. That is a huge number. If a contractor says they can do low voltage lighting, just look at their business card. It will have an ES and then numbers behind it. If they have a license and do not print it, it can be a $1,000 fine. If they run an ad and not print a number, they can be fined. Trust me, if they have the license, they will print it. The fines can be huge. If these guys get caught, it can be a 3 year jail term and a $5,000 fine. It is considered a felony.
There are various reasons to use a licensed contractor for outdoor landscape lighting. If a contractor is licensed, it represents a lot of checks on their background, financials, capability, and insurances. These are all important issues for the homeowner in the long run. Please understand that I am not necessarily saying unlicensed contractors are bad folks. Most are not. There are cases where the contractor themselves may not understand they have to have a license. They break the law the minute they offer you a written contract to do low voltage lighting. The ones that are bad are the ones that know what the law is and still try to take the homeowners’ money.
Before you hire anyone to install outdoor lighting in Orlando, check to see whether that individual is licensed. There are two websites that you can use as a resource to verify any contractor in any discipline license and business. As a homeowner protecting your property, these two sites are very important. We offer these as a public service.
Department of Business Professional Regulations
1. Google DBPR or go to www.myfloridalicense.com
2. Click on “Verify a License”
3. Select “Search by Name”
4. Click on the “search” button
5. Type in the organization name area and contractor’s company name and click “Search”
You will then learn whether the contractor as a company, holds any licenses and whether they are up to date. A homeowner can use this site to verify a license number that someone gives you and you suspect it is not accurate or verify that a company even has a license at all.
Another website you can use to verify whether a company can legally operate in the state of Florida is Sunbiz.org.
To search for a business name:
1. Go to Sunbiz.org – also known as the Florida Division of Corporations
2. Click “Search our Records”
3. Type in contractor company name
The website will then list the company name, who owns it, and whether it has a current legal standing in the state or not.
In the end, you have to ask yourself, if a contractor purports to tell a homeowner that he is licensed and insured or is qualified to do low voltage lighting, and yet really does not have a license, then you have to ask yourself, what else will they lie to you about? Is that who you want to install your outdoor lighting in Orlando?
Image courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net / imagerymajestic