Alexis Gonzalez Law Blog

Are You A Contractor?

July 14, 2021

When performing any type of work on a building, home, or apartment, it is critical to determine whether you must be licensed to perform that work because, as some people find out the hard way, the client may be able to avoid paying you.1 In some instances, the parties know from the outset whether the work contracted for requires a license. In other instances, the job becomes more complicated over time, and the new tasks may need to be performed by a person holding a specific license.

In the matter of SG 2901, LLC v. Complimenti, Inc., No. 3D19-2131 (Fla. 3d DCA June 2021), SG hired Complimenti to perform some relatively easy work on SG’s apartment, like decorating the apartment, polishing the floors, and preparing the unit for occupancy. But, over time, SG wanted more work done on the property, which required licensed professionals. Complimenti recruited several licensed professionals to meet with SG, and SG hired its preferred licensed professionals, including a licensed general contractor. All the licensed professionals have been told to meet with Complimenti on all matters relating to payment, but SG had the final word on any decisions. After the project was complete, SG refused to pay Complimenti for its services, and Complimenti sued.

SG argued that it could deny Complimenti payment because Complimenti was acting as a contractor. The court rejected this argument. In doing so, the court relied on a two-part test set out in section 489.105(3), Florida Statutes (2020) to determine whether Complimenti was a contractor: (1) the individual must construct, repair, alter, remodel, add to, demolish, subtract from or improve any building or structure; and (2) the job scope must be substantially similar to a job scope described in (a) through (q) of section 489.105(3) (which includes general contractor, roofing contractor, and specialty contractor, among other things). The court found that Complimenti’s job scope was limited to design and decorating services and acting as a point of contact for SG. Any of the hiring or contracting work done on the unit was approved by SG or the general contractor. The court concluded that based on these facts, Complimenti was not acting as a contractor, and SG owed the money due to Complimenti.

The main takeaway from the SG case is that regardless of the type of work you are hired to perform, the work that you actually perform determines whether you need a license. So whenever you are working on a job and are asked to perform more specialized work, ask yourself if you need a license to perform that work. If you need a license, get someone who has a hold of that license otherwise, the client may be able to avoid paying you.

[1] See § 489.128(1), Fla. Stat. (2020) (rendering contracts entered into by unlicensed contractors unenforceable).

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