Of course, you'll likely experience fewer surprises if you make the right hire from the get-go. Get multiple bids from contractors recommended by friends and neighbors (and don't assume the cheapest is the best choice).
Get copies of their licenses, workmen's compensation certificates and proof of liability insurance (it should cover the entire value of your home, not just the cost of the job).
Go with those with good reps with the Better Business Bureau, your town's building inspector, and local lumber yards and plumbing and electrical supply businesses. A call to the local courthouse may tip you off to any past or current lawsuits filed by dissatisfied customers.
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Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues. Have a question for Sid Kirchheimer about a new product, a new kind of bank account? Check out the Ask Sid archive. If you don’t find your answer there, send a query.