Doing Your Own Research and Educating Yourself: Through the magic of Google, YouTube, etc., vast amounts of information are at our fingertips. Whether your project is big or small, it will be well worth your while to try and learn as much about how to complete the project (i.e., the typical materials involved and the costs of labor and materials, typical length of time to complete the project, etc.). 

Obtaining Referrals and Verifying the Credentials of the Contractor.  Whether it be from a friend, someone in your community, or through the internet, investigating the credentials, reviews, and past/current performance of the contractor will assist you in making an informed decision when hiring a contractor. As part of this process, you will want to ensure that the contractor is licensed (if applicable) and, most importantly, adequately insured. 

Determining How Long the Project Will Take.  Always try and determine from the contractor when the project will be completed. Not knowing when the project will be completed will inevitably lead to stress, confusion, and conflict. 

Not Necessarily Hiring the Cheapest Contractor.  As the old saying goes, in many instances, you get what you pay for.  While some contractors may be able to offer a cheaper price, you should be wary if the price is drastically lower than other bids obtained.  How is the contractor able to offer such a lower price? Are there other hidden fees that are not included in their bid? Is the contract price a “fixed price” or will it change based on varying circumstances or other fees?  

Not Paying for Work Up Front. Generally, it is not a good idea to pay for work up front. A better scenario would be to pay for work as it progresses and passes inspection, etc. Otherwise, you may be faced with a contractor, who abandons the project and takes your money. 

Not Agreeing to Work Without a Contract. You should always have a written contract that details the rights and responsibilities of each party. When forming a contract, it is imperative that each party to the contract completely and fully understand the terms and provisions of the contract. Anytime you sign a contract, you should understand the consequences of each clause in the contract. This may sound like common sense, but many times a party does not fully understand the impact and effect of the contract they are signing. Contracts are not one size fit all. There are many different types of construction contracts, which can be tailored to minimize and protect a party’s interests.