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Do's and Don'ts when hiring a contractor

— Hire only licensed contractors. Check a contractor's license number at www.cslb.ca.gov or by calling 800-321-2752.

— Get at least three bids.

— Get three references from each bidder and review past work in person.

— Make sure all project expectations are in writing and sign the contract only if you completely understand the terms.

— Confirm that the contractor has workers compensation insurance for employees.

— Never pay more than 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever is less. Don't pay in cash.

— Don't let payments get ahead of the work.

— Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project, including all payments.

— Don't make the final payment until you're satisfied with the job.

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