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What guidelines should I use to find a contractor?

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Use caution. Your home is your most valuable financial asset. You will want someone who completes the job, not botch it up. It is important that you find a competent and reliable contractor who will successfully complete your home improvement project.

Here’s what you can do:

Avoid the Yellow Pages. Check with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations.

Contact local trade organizations, such as the local Builder Association or Remodelors Council, for the names of members in your area.

Deal only with licensed contractors. The state licensing board and local Better Business Bureau also can tell you if there are any outstanding complaints against the license holder.

Interview each contractor, request free estimates, if possible, and ask for recent references. Make sure bids are based on similar project specifications. And do not automatically settle for the lowest bid.

Ask for proof of worker’s compensation insurance and get policy and insurance company phone numbers so you can verify the information. If the contractor is not covered, you could be liable for any work-related injury that takes place during the project. Also check to make sure the contractor has an umbrella general liability policy.

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