The Do's

  • Do plan your project carefully.
  • Do shop around before hiring a contractor.
  • Do get at least three written bids on your project.
  • Do provide all contractors with accurate plans or drawings that will enable them to determine the scope and cost of work when requesting bids.
  • Do check with the Contractors State License Board to make sure the contractor is properly licensed, and to check the status and disciplinary history of the license.
  • Do check out contractors with your local building department, trade associations or unions, consumer protection agency, and the Better Business Bureau.
  • Do look at work the contractor has completed.
  • Do ask your contractor to furnish a completion or contract bond.
  • Do consult with more than one lending institution regarding the type of loan to obtain.
  • Do ask your lender to recommend a funding-control company.
  • Do make sure your contract provides for a "retention," apercentage of each payment or of the total job, ordinarily 10 percent, which you retain until the job is completed.
  • Do make sure everything you and your contractor have agreed to is included in your contract, and don't sign anything until you understand and agree with all terms.
  • Do ask your contractor about inconveniences that may occur, and plan accordingly.
  • Do keep a job file.
  • Do make sure you receive unconditional lien releases from subcontractors and material suppliers.
  • Do make frequent inspections of the work, including a final walk-through.
  • Do consult an attorney if a mechanics' lien is filed against your property.
  • Do negotiate with the contractor first if problems or disagreements occur.
Boots & tools

The Don'ts

  • Don't hire an unlicensed contractor.
  • Don't hire a contractor without first shopping around.
  • Don't be fooled or pressured by a smooth-talking salesperson. Take the time and effort to make sure that the person or business doing your home improvement is going to perform in a professional manner.
  • Don't act as an owner/builder, unless you are very experienced in construction.
  • Don't sign anything until you completely understand it and agree to the terms.
  • Don't make agreements with subcontractors or workers without consulting the prime contractor.
  • Don't pay cash without a proper receipt.
  • Don't make a down payment that exceeds the legal limit,usually ten percent.
  • Don't let your payments get ahead of the contractor's completed work.
  • Don't hesitate to ask questions of the contractor.
  • Don't make final payment until you are satisfied with the job.