1. If you don’t already have a contractor you’ve used in the past, ask friends, relatives and neighbors for recommendations. Alternatively, your municipal building inspectors’ office or your insurance agents might have suggestions.
2. Check contractors’ complaint histories with the Better Business Bureau.
3. Call several contractors to get estimates and compare the prices quoted.
4. Make sure the contractors meet the state licensing, registration, bonding and insurance requirements. You’ll want someone who’s in compliance in case something goes wrong with the job.
5. Avoid using contractors who show up at your door unannounced. If the contractors say someone suggested they reach out to you, call the person to verify.
6. Always get a written contract for the work you’re having done. The scope of the work — or the exact details of what you want done — might change once the project is underway, but the contract can be amended to reflect that adjustments.
7. Pay only a minimum amount upfront, usually 20-30%; never pay the full cost until all the work is complete. Understand that it’s not uncommon for contractors to need some money at the start for supplies and to begin the work. However, keep your paymentsproportional to the work that’s been done.
8. Watch out for signs of trouble, such as subcontractors (e.g., electricians, plumbers, wallboard installers) or suppliers complaining to you that the contractors haven’t paid them or the contractors failing to secure the necessary local work permits.