Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Selecting a Florida Marine Contractor
It was Easter Sunday yesterday and I took my family for a cruise around Lake Holden in Orlando. We bought a small home on Lake Holden in 1997 when the lake had been so culturally eutrophicated that it listed next to the bottom in Orange County’s list of a lake’s water quality. Then the County, City and our Home Owner’s Association worked to clean the lake by using alum treatments, installing storm water cleaning devices and installing beneficial plants. The results have been outstanding and the water quality is now near the top of that same lake water quality list.
A good portion of the docks around the lake need replacement or repair. We have done a few projects around the lake but right now there is very little marine construction being performed here.
As we cruised around the lake, I noticed some newer docks that had been constructed since the last time I had been on the lake during the winter. Of the (4) new docks that I saw, there was one that I knew had been permitted by a licensed contractor. The other (3) docks were homeowner built as evidenced by being out of plumb and unleveled as well as the utilization of substandard framing designs and techniques. I check out the contractor that built the one permitted dock and found that he was from the East coast of Florida and advertised himself as a “marine contractor”. Although the dock builder did not have the Florida Marine Contractor’s License, with the State Certified Building Contractor’s License that he did have, it was perfectly legal for him to contract for this marine construction. As I inspected the dock and boathouse, I noticed the unexpected poor workmanship. Since the lake was very calm which makes for a great contrast, the unleveled deck was readily evident and one of the boathouse pile was out of plumb. (4) of the boathouse pile had settled indicting the contractor’s inability and lack of experience in setting pile. The contractor failed to install a 1”x2” furring strip under the drip edge of the shingle roof leaving the drip edge flat against the fascia. As my fellow Florida Marine Contractor’s Association members know, this poor drip edge installation allows the rain water to flow down the face of the fascia causing it to mildew and rot away in a few short years.
When I meet with a potential dock customer, I tell them stories like this, stressing the important reasons for selecting a marine contractor that is not only covered with USL&H and Liability insurance, appropriately licensed for the work they are contracting and having the contractor prove that they are actually experienced in marine construction. For a novice homeowner, this can be difficult. The potential homeowner goes to the contractor’s fancy website which shows all kind of marine construction projects. The projects on the site may not even have been built by that contractor. One way that a marine construction customer can have an easier time of selecting a qualified marine contractor is to select a member of the Florida Marine Contractor’s Association. Our members have proven that they carry USL&H, Liability Insurance, appropriate licensing and are of good character.
Another way a marine construction customer can be assured that the marine contractor they hire is capable of performing marine construction is to require that the contractor carry the Florida State Certified Marine Contractor’s License. This is the only Florida State Certified License that requires applicants to prove to the State that they have the required marine construction experience, the State actually tests the applicants for their marine construction knowledge and the State requires proof of USL&H coverage of the applicants before they are able to acquire the Marine Contractor’s License. The Florida Marine Contractor’s Association worked with the State to develop this license to further enhance the marine construction industry in Florida. So far there are around (30) Florida State Certified Marine Contractors and that number is growing. I encourage all marine contractors to go the extra mile to procure this very valuable license. Fender Marine Construction holds the Florida State Certifed Marine Contractor's License and is standing by to serve you.