Hiring a contractor in Lee or Collier County? - Read this first

Melanie Payne (Tell Mel) from the Fort Myers News Press wrote a great article and listed great tips to protect yourself from Unlicensed and Uninsured Contractors.

Please view the link at the bottom of the page to view the full article.

Of all the bad things I thought could happen when an unlicensed contractor comes into a home, I really could never have imagined the horrible death of Mary Ann Zarb.

According to reports, the 64-year old woman hired a handyman at her Estero home and she ended up dead. The handyman and his buddy are the prime suspects.

I doubt Zarb checked out these two yahoos, because she likely would have discovered their criminal records and that neither had a contractor's license.

I certainly am not blaming this poor woman. She should have been able to let a handyman into her home without expecting to be killed. But we don't live in the age when you can trust people. You need to check them out first.

That's still no guarantee you won't hire a criminal or someone who will do you harm or rip you off. And just because someone has a criminal past, is a sex offender, or has financial troubles doesn't mean they shouldn't be hired. But you need to know some background information.

So get the scissors and clip out this column. Because I'm going to list some websites you can use:

myfloridalicense.com

Don't believe a license number on an invoice or business card is valid. This website will allow you to check out license numbers and names to see qualifications and complaints.

sheriffleefl.org

Go to the "Arrests & Inmates" tab and then "Search Lee County Arrests." A long arrest record can be an indication of trouble.

leeclerk.org

There are two places to search on this site that will give you two valuable data sets. One is the court records where you can find both criminal and civil cases. And if you search official records, you can get some indication of the financial state of your contractor by checking his name and the company.

offender.fdle.state.fl.us

I don't think most of the people on this site pose a great danger to the average adult. But you might want to know what they were convicted of and judge accordingly.

Every time I print websites, people call me to complain because they don't own a computer Read More

- Email Melanie Payne at tellmel@news-press.com, call 239-344-4772 or write to "Tell Mel," 2442 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Fort Myers, 33901. Read more at news-press.com/tellmel.

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