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Hiring a Contractor
It is extremely important to compare costs before making a financial commitment toward any home improvement project. You should solicit at least two or three bids from prospective contractors.

Discuss bids in detail with each contractor, making certain you understand the reasons for any variations in the prices. Do not automatically choose the lowest price. One contractor's bid might be higher because the materials to be used are of a better quality or because the work will be especially thorough and therefore, require more time and labor.

Ask the remodeling contractor for local references and find out if these customers were satisfied with the contractor's work. If possible, visit and inspect their completed projects.

Find out if the contractor is a member of a professional association which has standards or a code of ethics for remodelers.

Contact your local BBB to learn how long a contractor has been in business and if the firm has been responsive to any complaints filed with BBB.

Another important matter to consider before hiring a contractor is the matter of insurance. Ask the contractor if the company is insured against claims covering worker's compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents. Then call to verify the contractor's insurance coverage after obtaining the name of the carrier and agency.

Also make sure to obtain applicable building permits for the work to be done. The City and County of Denver recommends protecting yourself with building permits because they protect your safety and the resale of your home and are required by lending institutions. They also advise:
*Unpermitted work can void insurance coverage and violate local Zoning and Building Codes.
*Permits add value to your project and require that inspections be performed to verify that work was done correctly.
*Have your contractor pull a permit because the permit holder is responsible for compliance with the Building Code.

Contact your local city and county building department for more information about permits.

Finally, check with your state, county, or city housing authority to see if the contractor must meet certain licensing and/or bonding requirements in your area. If so, make sure your contractor is properly licensed and bonded. Never pay a contractor for the entire job in advance and avoid paying in cash whenever possible.
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