At FLASH homeowners often ask us: “How can I find a reputable contractor to work on my home?” First, be sure that your contractor is licensed and insured before any work is undertaken. Check with the state agency that handles the licensing of professionals and your local Better Business Bureau for any complaints on file. Also:

• Get estimates from at least three licensed, insured contractors.

• Ask for and check references of other work the contractor has done.

• Ask for proof of insurance. If the contractor does not have disability and workers’ compensation insurance, you may be liable for accidents on your property.

• Ask for a written estimate. Read the fine print. Make sure it includes everything you expect the contractor to do.

• Get a contract in writing. It should cover exactly what work is to be done, when work will start, how much it will cost, payment schedules, and the quality of materials to be used. Never make full payment up front. Don’t sign over an insurance settlement check to the contractor.

• Don’t make final payment until the work is finished. Obtain lien waivers to ensure that no one who supplied materials can put a lien on your home because the contractor did not pay them.

• Make sure all work that requires city or county permits and inspections is officially approved in writing before the final payment is made.

Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. (FLASH)