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What can you do if you have trouble with a Florida contractor?

Florida, as we know, is a lovely place to live. However, a significant downside to living here, as we also know, is the number of national disasters that we face.

Hurricane Michael, which struck the northern part of Florida in October, caused at least $11 billion in damage and leveled countless homes. Impacted Floridians, undoubtedly, are eager to rebuild and resume life as they knew it.

The lucky families will be those whose homes suffered comparatively minor damage, such as shingles blown off a roof, water damage or downed trees. They'll want to get those things fixed as soon as possible.

However, what do you do if the contractor you hire takes your money and does shoddy work, little work or even no work? Following are some tips.

Document everything. Keep a notebook that documents every time you've tried to reach the contractor. Write down the time and date of every call you've made and every text message you've sent. Print the emails you send and add them to your notebook. Send certified letters, with a return receipt requested.

You could need to present this as evidence if you go to court. If the contractor actually answers the phone or gets back to you, write down what was discussed as soon as you are finished with your conversation.

Give them incentive to finish the job. Sometimes contractors take on more they can handle at one time and will drag their feet on your project. Check the terms of the contract you signed with the contractor. Did it specify a timeframe for finishing it? Tell the contractor you have a breach of contract case. If you found the contractor through an online service that allow reviews, warn the contractor that you have the documentation to support the negative review you will leave.

Seek outside help. If you gave the contractor money up front for materials and they never returned, file a police report for theft. Or contact, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to file a complaint. Other options include contacting the state attorney general's office, the Better Business Bureau or even a local television state that runs consumer reports.

If all else fails, you can seek legal remedies. A Florida attorney with experience in construction litigation can advocate on your behalf.

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