Sometimes it seems as if finding an honest contractor is impossible. With all of the horror stories out there, it’s no wonder that so many people are leery of hiring someone to work in their homes. The good news is that there are some things you can do to protect yourself from being scammed.

Check references and reviews

It’s a good idea to ask the contractor for references from previous clients, as well as getting references from family and friends. Once you have a list of potential candidates, take the time to read online reviews. This will give you a sense of what others have experienced with the contractor in question. Visit the Better Business Bureau review website (or contact them) to see if any complaints have been filed against the contractor. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, set up meetings with each of the contractors and ask them for bids on the project. Be sure to get everything in writing before making a final decision.

Get multiple estimates

If you’re planning a home improvement project, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing a contractor. A bad contractor can cost you thousands of dollars and cause a lot of stress and headaches. One of the best ways to avoid disasters is to get multiple estimates. This way, you can compare prices and services to find the best value for your money. Make sure to get at least three to four estimates, and be sure to ask each contractor the same questions so that you can make an apples-to-apples comparison.

Ask for proof of insurance

A reputable (and non-sketchy) contractor should be able to provide you with proof that covers both workers’ compensation and liability. This will protect you in case some unfortunate calamity occurs during the project, and it will also ensure that the contractor is responsible for any damages that occur.

Do a Background Check

One of the most important things to do when looking for a contractor is to do a background check. This will help you to ensure that the contractor has a good reputation and that they have not been involved in any previous legal disputes. You can conduct a background check by searching online for public records or using a background check site.

Background checks can be a great way to protect yourself from scammers, but they are not always foolproof. If you have any doubts about a contractor, trust your gut and move on to someone else.

Read the contract carefully before signing

Always read the document carefully. Pay close attention to the total cost of the project and any deadlines that are listed. It is also important to make sure that the contract includes a clause that allows you to cancel the agreement if you are not satisfied with the work that has been done. By taking these precautions, you can help to protect yourself from being taken advantage of by a dishonest contractor. If you have any doubts about the contract, consult with a lawyer or another expert before signing.

Pay with a credit card if possible

Paying with a credit card is one of the best ways to avoid being ripped off by a contractor. When you pay with a credit card, you have the right to dispute the charges if the work is not up to par. This means that you can withhold payment until the problem is resolved to your satisfaction. In contrast, if you pay with cash or check, you have no recourse if the contractor does not hold up their end of the bargain.

Don’t pay in full until the job is finished

It may be tempting to pay upfront for a discount, but this leaves you vulnerable to being cheated. A good rule of thumb is to only pay a third of the total cost upfront, with the remaining balance due upon completion. This gives the contractor an incentive to do the job right and ensures that you won’t be left high and dry if they decide to take your money and run.

Inspect the work before paying the final invoice

Finally, the best way to protect yourself from being ripped off is to inspect the work before you pay the final invoice. Make sure that all the work has been completed to your satisfaction and that any damaged areas have been repaired. If possible, take photos of the work so that you have a record of what was supposed to be done. Once you’re satisfied that the job has been done right, then you can pay the contractor in full.

Getting contractors can always be stressful because of their reputation. However, if you meticulously follow the tips in this article, you should be able to avoid any scams. If a contractor does try to scam you, don’t be afraid to report them so they can’t do it to anyone else. Finding a good contractor doesn’t have to be such a headache with a little bit of research and due diligence.