Do’s and Don’ts

Things to consider and do to protect yourself
when looking for a contractor


Plan your project carefully.

Have sketches and blueprints if necessary for big jobs like additions.
Know what you want to have done, what you would like your project to look like finished and how much you can afford to spend.

Shop for a contractor

Check with the contractors state license board to make sure the contractor is properly licensed, check the status and disciplinary history of the license. Also check out your contractor at the Better Business Bureau.
Unlicensed contractors often do not have insurance placing you at financial risk.
Unlicensed contractors may not have the expertise or qualifications to properly do your project. You could end up paying a contractor twice to get the job done right.

Get references for previous projects the contractor has done and follow up on them.

Look at pictures, actual finished projects and ask the homeowners if they were satisfied with the results.

Get at least 3 bids.

Provide all contractors with accurate plans or drawings that will enable them to determine the scope and cost of work.

Do not automatically accept the lowest bid.
Discuss the bids in detail with the contractor.
Sometimes a higher bid may be worth it. If the materials to be used are of higher quality. Or the work listed on the bid is more extensive (no hidden costs) it may be justified.
Beware of substantially lower bids. All the work needed may not be included setting you up for a dispute with the contractor when he tries to charge more in the end..

Make sure everything you and your contractor have agreed is in your contract. Do not sign anything until you understand and agree with all terms.

Ask the contractor about inconveniences that may occur and plan accordingly. Example: How long will I be without a tub for a bathroom remodel?

Keep a job file.

Make frequent inspections of the work including a final walk through.

If a problem occurs talk to the contractor immediately and first.

Make sure your contract/bid includes:

A description of the work to be done, a material list with the description of the materials and the equipment to be used or installed and the price of the work.
Remember on any home improvement project it is standard practice to have the homeowner make a down payment.
A schedule of payments/draws expected with completion of specific portions of the project.


Hire an unlicensed contractor.

Don’t act as an owner/builder/general unless experienced in construction.

Don’t let payments get ahead of the work. After the down payment draws should be for completion of a portion of the project.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions of the contractor.