Can a contractor demand full payment before the job is initiated and completed

3 weeks ago

A roofing contractor is asking for full payment before my roof is repaired because he has been “burned” too many times in the past. Is this legal in Florida?

Senior Legal Associate Levelset
95 reviews

Ultimately, down payments or initial payments are negotiable between an owner and their contractor. So, it’ up to the parties to negotiate the contract and decide on what will be paid up front and what will be paid throughout the life of the project. Unlike some other states, Florida does not put a cap on what can be paid up front.

However, under Fla. Stat. 489.126, if a contractor receives initial payment totaling more than 10% of the contract, that contractor must apply for the necessary permits within 30 days of receiving payment and they must begin work within 90 days of the issuance of those necessary permits. So, on jobs where a contractor requests a large downpayment, the contractor has some additional timing responsibilities to ensure the work is begun on time.

Note, though, that full payment for a job before work begins is extremely uncommon. Rather, down payments or initial payments will generally fall on the lower end of the 20% to 50% spectrum. Regardless of the amount of the downpayment, though, it’s wise for an owner to ask for a detailed breakdown of how the downpayment will be used. Further, before entering into a contract, it’d also be wise to ask for references, to search the contractor’s license, and to see if there are any reviews of the business online (like via Angie’s List, the Better Business Bureau, Google, or Facebook) to verify that they do good work and that others haven’t experienced problems.

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