— 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.