Home & Garden

Choose a qualified contractor

Given the economic climate, more homeowners are making improvements on their houses rather than move. That usually means hiring a contractor. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind while you conduct your search:

* Make sure whomever you choose is properly licensed and insured. Ask for specifics about what types of insurance he carries and ask for copies of insurance certificates.

* Inquire about credentials and check references. When contacting previous clients, ask detailed questions about the quality of work, how well workers stayed on time and budget and if they were good about cleaning up after themselves.

* Ask about certifications or memberships to trade associations.

* Be sure that you like your contractor. If you don't feel comfortable communicating with the person, you'll have a hard time properly conveying your ideas and any concerns or problems that may arise.

* Get estimates from several contractors. Write down exactly what you want to accomplish on paper, so you provide the same information to every contractor.