• Contact your local Consumer Affairs Department to see if consumers have filed any complaints against the contractor, and to ensure the contractor is registered.
• Get written estimates from at least three contractors. Ask each contractor how long they have been in business, if they have liability insurance (as required by law), and whether they will be using subcontractors on the project.
• Contact the references your contractor gives you. Ask them whether the job was completed on time, whether there were any unexpected costs, whether the workers showed up on time and cleaned up when they finished, and whether they would use the contractor again.
• Ask your contractor about his or her professional affliations and confirm the information with those organizations.
• Investigate financing options for your project. Shop for credit and be sure you understand the annual percentage rate you will have to pay.
• Do not pay for the entire job up front. The customary arrangement is one-third in advance, one-third halfway through the job and one-third upon completion. Do not pay with cash.