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Can I build

By Brent Handy, Paragon Pools /


As Florida licensed pool contractors, we know what work our
contractor’s license allows us to do within our scope of work.  But, there
can be a disconnect between work that unlicensed contractors are capable of
performing and what Florida Building Code allows to be performed legally. 

Often homeowners do lots of research online which can lead
them to conflicting information, and downright false information, about
building permits and what type of work can be performed.  Hiring practices
that are legal in some states may not be legal in Florida, and often advice
given to Florida homeowners does not take the location of the project into
account.   Sometimes unscrupulous contractors will intentionally try
to get homeowners to pull Owner Builder permits for work they are not licensed
to perform.

This article is intended to cover the licensing requirements
under Florida law when working on a swimming pool.  The specific focus is
on residential swimming pool construction in Florida.  Additional, or
different, licensing may be needed for commercial swimming pool construction,
renovation work, or service and maintenance work.

In Florida, a Certified Pool Contractor is identified by a
license number that begins with CPC followed by 7 numbers, i.e.:
CPCxxxxxxx.  A swimming pool contractor who carries a CPC license can work
anywhere in Florida and is not limited by geography.  There are also
Registered Pool Contractors.  The difference is, the Registered Pool
Contractor is geographically limited and can only work in a county in which
they are registered.  A Registered Pool Contractor license will begin with
“RP” and will typically be RP followed by numbers i.e.: RPxxxxxxx.

The CPC and RP license designations are given to the three
primary swimming pool and spa contractor licenses:

Commercial Swimming Pool/Spa
Building, repair, and remodel/resurfacing of any
public/commercial or private swimming pool or spa. Installation, repair, and
replacement of public/commercial and private swimming pool and spa equipment
and piping.

 Residential Swimming
Pool/Spa Contractor:
Building, repair, and remodel/resurfacing of
residential swimming pools and spas. Repair, and remodel/resurfacing of
public/commercial swimming pools and spas. Repair, and replacement of
public/commercial and private swimming pool and spa equipment and piping.

Swimming Pool/Spa Servicing
Repair, and replacement of public/commercial and residential
swimming pool and spa equipment and piping.  Repair and resurfacing of
public/commercial and residential swimming pools and spas.

General Contractor – A General Contractor is defined
by a contractors license that begins with CGC followed by seven numbers, ie:
CGCxxxxxxx.   On the DBPR website, it states, “A General Contractor
means a contractor whose services are unlimited as to the type of work which he
or she may do.”  But this is inaccurate, or at least misleading! 
Under Florida Statutes Sec. 489.113(3)(c) a CGC contractor has a limited
exception to perform structural swimming pool work only, with all other aspects
of construction completed by a swimming pool and spa contractor.  When a
CGC contractor pulls a swimming pool permit, on the permit they must list a CPC
or RP licensed pool contractor as a subcontractor on all aspects of swimming
pool phases regulated by swimming pool building code. CGC contractors also
cannot qualify a business to build swimming pools and spas or advertise
themselves as swimming pool contractors (CILB DS2014-044).  This exception
for CGC contractors to perform structural swimming pool work is properly used
when a pool is being built in conjunction to another building, either a
residential home or a commercial project.  

Homeowner Permit – As property owner in the State of
Florida, homeowners are authorized to act as their own contractor when
improving or modifying their property.  But there are limitations on who a
homeowner can hire as a subcontractor for their projects.  When a
homeowner in Florida pulls a homeowner swimming pool permit, or an Owner
Builder permit, by law they are required to perform all work on the permitted
pool personally.  Under a homeowner permit, the homeowner is legally and
financially responsible for the pool in every way.  The homeowner can hire
a licensed contractor to perform specific phases of the project, but only if
the hired contractor is a licensed swimming pool and spa contractor (CPC or RP)
and the work that they are contracted to perform is within their scope of work.

Homeowners CAN NOT hire unlicensed subcontractors or
individuals licensed as Swimming Pool and Spa Specialty Subcontractors! 
This is very specific in Florida law.  Florida Statute 489.103
specifically regulates exemptions to Florida licensing requirements. 
Subsection 7 specifically provides the legal requirements and responsibilities
of owners acting as their own contractor.  Homeowners applying for an
Owner Builder Permit must sign and notarize a disclosure statement.  Among
other things, this disclosure statement says: “I understand that I may not hire
an unlicensed person to act as my contractor or to supervise persons working on
my residence.”  This disclosure also says: “Any person working on my
building must be employed by me, which means that I must comply with laws
requiring the withholding of federal income tax and social security
contributions and I must provide workers’ compensation for the employee.” 

To put this in plain language, as per the signed and
notarized disclosure statement on the Homeowner Permit, any person that is paid
any money by the homeowner for work on the pool MUST either have a contractor’s
license or be an W2 employee of the homeowner.

An Owner Builder CAN NOT hire an unlicensed subcontractor,
Swimming Pool and Spa Specialty Subcontractors, General Contractors, or any
other contractor.  There is no exception under Florida law that would
allow an Owner Builder to hire anyone but a properly licensed swimming pool and
spa contractor to act as their subcontractor.

For questions about swimming
pool and spa scope of work, please reach out to FSPA Sr. Director of Government
Affairs Dallas Thiesen at


The math is simple. The cost is FREE.

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