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Investigation highlights problems with county’s construction contractor complaint process

In any construction project, numerous things can go wrong, and contractors, subcontractors, and consumers have to work together to come up with a clear project plan and to resolve any problems that arise along the way. When contractors fails to address problems and disagreements, violate contract terms or fail to abide by the various codes, consumers need to work with an experienced attorney to determine the available legal options.

One of the possible avenues for addressing problems is to file a complaint against the contractor with the county board responsible for licensing and disciplining contractors. Although filing such a complaint is supposed to be an impartial and transparent process, this doesn't always happen.  Take, for example, the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board. The board was created in 1973 to harmonize and unify the county’s construction and fire codes. At present, 21 men serve on the board, 14 of whom are private contractors who volunteer and seven of whom are building and fire officials throughout the county. 

Regulates construction and home improvement contractors within the county, including municipalities, and provides certification and registration of contractors and journeyman. In addition, the board handles licensing and permitting issues, and decides whether, upon receiving a complaint, there is sufficient evidence of code violations to take disciplinary action against a contractor. The board is supposed to protect the public from bad contractors.

One of the problems with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board is that it doesn’t report to local county commission or the state legislature which created it. Lack of oversight, according to critics, gives the board too much power and can lead to cronyism and self-dealing. In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue, and how an experienced attorney can help a consumer navigate problems with contractors.  

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