​​Christopher J. Weiss - Construction Attorney

Christopher Weiss Attorney at Law, P.A.

2014 E. Robinson St., Orlando, FL  32803

Tel.:  407-928-6737  Email:  chris@cweisslaw.com

Contact us:

Christopher J. Weiss, Esq.

Christopher Weiss Attorney at Law, P.A.

2014 E. Robinson St.

Orlando, FL  32803



​​​​​1.    How long does a contractor have to file a lien in Florida?

A contractor has 90 days from completing work on a property to file a lien in Florida.

If the contract was terminated, the contractor has 90 days from the date of termination

to file the lien. However, a contractor must also provide a “Notice of Commencement”

and post it to the job site no more than 90 days before starting work on the project.

Additionally, a subcontractor who is not directly contracted with the owner has 45 days

to serve a “Notice to Owner” that notifies the owner and other parties of the subcontractor’s

involvement. The property owner can request an affidavit fromthe subcontractor or general

contractor that lists the unpaid services and materials at any time before a lien is filed.

The lienor has to provide this information within 30 days of the request.​​

2.   What is considered a construction defect?
A construction defect is any condition in the property caused by a contractor or other construction professional that reduces its value. Construction defect claims are made against architects, engineers, developers, builders, contractors, suppliers and others. The use of inferior materials, Improper site selection and planning, engineering errors and problems with soil analysis are common causes of construction defects. Common construction defects include water issues, faulty drainage, dry rot, mold, foundation cracks and construction completed not to code. Construction defects are generally divided into two categories: Patent defects are easily observable while latent defects are not. Latent defects may not appear until years after the construction was completed.

3.   Can an unlicensed contractor sue in Florida?
Technically, an unlicensed contractor can sue in Florida. However, it is illegal for a person to perform work that requires a license without having such a license. Because individuals in this nature are directly avoiding the law, the courts do not provide relief to them. Therefore, if an unlicensed contractor sues a property owner in Florida and the property owner can prove that the contractor performed such work without a license, the court will not enforce any contract the contractor had with the property owner. The court does not assume that a person does not have a license. You have to prove this.

4.    What happens when a contractor puts a lien on your house?
As part of the lien process, the contractor completes an affidavit in which he or she swears under oath regarding the labor or materials that were provided and the amount that has not been paid. The contractor places a Claim of Lien on the property. The home owner will be unable to sell or refinance the property when there is a lien on the property unless you pay off the amount owed and the lien is lifted. If the contractor completes the lien process appropriately, the lien is perfected and he or she will have the right to foreclose on the property if the debt remains unpaid. There are specific rules that must be followed in order to complete this process. Christopher Weiss Attorney at Law can provide legal advice and representation to assist you with this situation and explain ways to fight such a lien.

5.   Can a homeowner file a lien against a contractor?
A mechanic’s lien is an interest in property. These are commonly filed by contractors against homeowners to ensure that they get paid for the work that they perform. A homeowner already has an interest in the property as its owner and does not file a lien against a contractor. If a homeowner believes that the construction was not completed properly, he or she can consider taking legal action for construction defects or breach of the construction contract. If the homeowner receives notice that a lien is being placed against the home and thinks this is in error, he or she can defend against the lien with the help of experienced attorney Christopher Weiss.

6.   How much does it cost to put a lien on a house?
The technical cost to place a lien on a property is the recording fee that is paid to the clerk of the court in the county where the property is situated. In most Florida counties, this fee is $10 for the first page and $8.50 for each additional page. It is vital that you hire an attorney to assist with the process of filing a lien on a property to ensure that you provide all of the necessary information and notices to preserve your rights. So, in addition to the technical legal costs, you will also have attorney’s fees. Receiving notice of representation and the lien is often enough to motivate property owners to pay the unpaid amount for labor and supplies. However, if the debt remains unpaid, the next step in the process is to perfect the lien to require the foreclosure of the home, which will require additional attorney fees. Contact Christopher Weiss Attorney at Law to get an estimate on the cost to put a lien on a property in your case.

7.   Can someone put a lien on my property?
Florida mechanic’s lien law is pretty broad and provides this option for a number of different individuals and companies. It is in place to ensure that individuals and companies receive payment for the labor and materials that they have provided during construction improvements and builds to privately-held property. This type of lien can be filed by general contractors, subcontractors, material supplier, laborer, and construction professionals, such as architects, engineers, surveyors, mappers, landscape architects or interior designers. 

​8.   Who is responsible for construction defects?
Construction defects can arise for a number of reasons, so it may require some extensive investigation and even hiring a construction expert to determine how a defect occurred. Parties who may be held liable for construction defects include architects, engineers, developers, builders, contractors, designers, suppliers and others. Contact Christopher Weiss Attorney at Law to learn about your rights and which parties may be held legally liable for the damages that you have sustained as a result of a construction defect.

​9.   What are deficiencies in construction?
When courts are presented with a case alleging a construction defect, the defect is usually classified under one of the following four categories: design deficiencies, material deficiencies, subsurface deficiencies and construction deficiencies. This last category often includes allegations regarding poor quality workmanship. Unlike one of the categories like material deficiencies, the quality of the product is not necessarily in question. Instead, how the contractor performed the work is in question. Common construction deficiencies include cracks in the foundation, ceiling, floors or walls, electrical and mechanical problems, dry rot, plumbing leaks, pest infestation or water infiltration that leads to mold growth. This type of claim is made when the worker did not perform work correctly or failed to properly supervise the work of other workers which resulted in the property not being constructed in a reasonably workmanlike manner.

​10.   Is a construction defect an occurrence?
Construction defects can arise for a number of reasons, so it may require some extensive investigation and even hiring a construction expert to determine how a defect occurred. Parties who may be held liable for construction defects include architects, engineers, developers, builders, contractors, designers, suppliers and others. Contact Christopher Weiss Attorney at Law to learn about your rights and which parties may be held legally liable for the damages that you have sustained as a result of a construction defect.

​11.   Can I hire an unlicensed contractor?
While you technically can hire an unlicensed contractor, it is usually not a good idea. By hiring a licensed contractor, you can have greater faith that he or she will have the necessary education and skill to complete the work properly. Additionally, licensed contractors are aware of local building codes and requirements. When you deal with licensed contractors, you have the potential remedy to report violations to the licensing board, so these individuals have an incentive to perform work correctly. Florida law states that an unlicensed contractor will not have his or her contract enforced when performing work that requires a license. Unlicensed contractors take a tremendous risk because even if they perform the job correctly, they may not be able to get a court to force the property owner to pay the agreed-upon amount.

12.   Can you go to jail for not having a contractor license?
Engaging in contracting work without a valid contractor’s license in Florida is considered a crime. The first offense is typically considered a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a potential penalty of up to one year in jail or 12 months of probation and a fine of $1,000. If you have previously been convicted of contracting without a license, the offense can be charged as a third-degree felony. This more serious crime can result in five years’ imprisonment and a fine of $5,000. This offense can also be charged if you have no prior conviction of unlicensed contracting but you act as a contractor during a state of emergency. You may also be required to pay restitution to the property owner.

​13.   What is a building code?
A building code is a set of rules that specify standards for construction of buildings and other structures. State, county and city governments enact these rules. Building codes are put in place to protect the public, health and safety. Various individuals and companies must comply with these codes, including architects, engineers, developers, builders and contractors. These rules dictate how work must be performed and to what standards. They govern electrical, plumbing, framing and other aspects of the construction process. Building codes are enforced by the permit process. Work is inspected to ensure that it complies with these codes. If the work is not completed according to code, the job is delayed until it comes into compliance. 

​​14.   Do you have to pay an unlicensed contractor?
An unlicensed contractor can enter into a contract with a property owner. However, if you can show that he or she does not have a license and performed work that did require a license; the court will not enforce the contract against you. However, even if the court does not enforce this contract, this rule does not prohibit the contractor from putting you through the turmoil and uncertainty of a lawsuit. Therefore, most property owners will pay the independent contractor to avoid these potential issues.​

​​15.   What permits do I need to get?
The type of permit that you need to get before construction begins depends on the type of work that you will be completing. Building a new structure or renovating an existing structure usually requires a general building permit. However, you may have to acquire other permits if you will be performing specific and extensive work. Other permits include:

  • Demolition
  • Electrical
  • Elevator
  • Fire
  • Generator
  • Mechanical
  • Phased Permit
  • Plumbing
  • Roofing

​​16.   Can my contractor bill me for more than his estimate?
It is not uncommon for a contractor to provide an estimate when bidding on a particular project. This estimate is a professional assessment of what the project will cost when considering known variables and estimated material costs. An estimate is different from a quote, which is a more definitive amount that the property owner will be charged if they agree to proceed with the contractor. The contractor is typically bound by the amount that is included in the contract. However, the property owner may be charged more if there was additional work added to the scope of the work than when the quote was provided. This is completed through agreeing on a change order, which explains the costs and changes involved. 

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