The Florida Legislature deems it necessary in the interest of the public health, safety, and welfare to regulate the construction industry in Florida. As a result, the Florida Legislature enacted Chapter 489, Florida Statutes. Florida Construction Licensing is further broken down by restrictions on the scope of work a respective license is allowed to perform. At the top of the Florida Construction License food chain is the Certified General Contractor (“CGC”).
An active Certified General Contractor is permitted to enter into contracts to build anything in Florida. The general policy in this state is that construction work must be performed by an appropriate licensed contractor unless exempt from licensure under 489.103, Florida Statutes. While CGC’s may contract for the work, whether they are permitted to self-perform the work is another intricately detailed analysis. This post will discuss some of the permissions and restrictions placed on a Florida Certified General Contractor to perform particular types of work.
Section 489.113, Florida Statutes, provides guidance in the analysis. As a basic requirement, a general contractor must subcontract all electrical, mechanical, plumbing, roofing, sheet metal, swimming pool, and air-conditioning work. The CGC does not have to subcontract if he/she holds a state certificate or registration in the respective sub-trade category. If they hold the sub-trade license, then they can legally do the work. If the general contractor self-performs sub-trade work without a license, they can be exposed to discipline for working outside the scope of the CGC license. The impact of this unlicensed activity was explored in my November 11, 2015 post entitled “Penalties for Unlicensed Contracting in Florida”.
The Structure and Site Work
A general contractor is, by law, responsible for any construction or alteration of a structural component of a building or structure. This would include any steel and/or concrete work or other structural framing. A general contractor may also perform clearing and grubbing, grading, excavation, and other site work for any construction project in Florida, regardless of whether they are contracted to the vertical construction on the site. This same scope for site work can be performed by a certified underground utility and excavation contractor. There is a limitation for certified building contractor (“CBC”) or certified residential contractors (“CRC”). The CBC and CRC may perform clearing and grubbing, grading, excavation, and other site work for any construction project in Florida, limited only to the lot on which any specific building is located.
Generally speaking all roofing work must be subcontracted to a certified/registered roofing contractor, but there are some exceptions to when a general, building, or residential contractor may perform roofing work. The contractor is not required to subcontract the installation, or repair made under warranty of wood shingles, wood shakes, or asphalt or fiberglass shingle roofing materials on a new building of his or her own construction. A CGC cannot do roof repairs and cannot do a roof tie in an addition to an existing structure. That is the scope of a certified roofer. Additionally, in times of emergency, the Florida’s Governor will suspend 489.113 with an Emergency Order to allow general, building and residential contractors the ability to help with roofing repairs so desperately needed following a major hurricane like Irma.
A general contractor’s work on a swimming pool has been the subject of some debate. Basically, a general contractor shall not be required to subcontract structural swimming pool work. This has been interpreted to mean that if the pool shell is part of the structure, then a general contractor may perform the work. If the pool shell is not part of the structure, then the work must be subcontracted. All other swimming pool work shall be subcontracted to an appropriately licensed certified or registered swimming pool contractor.
Much like the site work of an Underground Utility Contractor (“CUC”) discussed above, a general contractor may perform and is not required to subcontract the construction of a main sanitary sewer collection system, storm collection system, or water distribution system, not including the continuation of utility lines from the mains to the buildings. A general contractor may perform any of the services, on public or private property, for which a license as an underground utility and excavation contractor is required under Florida law. As you can see by now, the scope of work for a CGC and a CUC greatly overlap. In addition, a general contractor is not required to subcontract the continuation of utility lines from the mains in mobile home parks, and such continuations are to be considered a part of the main sewer collection and main water distribution systems.
A newer trend is that CGCs are now serving as construction managers. There are many types of project delivery methods and in order to manage risk, many contractors serve as construction managers. There are different types, such as, a CM at Risk and CM not at Risk. One thing that is now determined: if someone oversees the management of construction activities on a given project, such activities are the exclusive purview of a licensed contractor. As such, construction management must be performed by a licensed individual and/or a properly qualified entity. In re: The Petition for Declaratory Statement of Paul J. Del Vecchio, DS 2011-082.
Florida Construction Licensing is largely defined by scope. That scope includes qualifications on what the contractor may contract for versus what the contractor may self-perform. An understanding of these requirements is essential when performing construction work in Florida.