Every home needs repairs and improvements, but the current mortgage crisis, recent wildfires and harsh weather conditions have homeowners across the country thinking about improving the condition and value of their home.
Check building codes
Whether it is refurbishing a kitchen or putting on a new roof, each state has a regulatory body that enforces codes by which all contractors must abide. A good contractor will be able to manage that bureaucratic minefield from the beginning.
Check contractor's credentials and licenses
Each contractor is certified in their county. If a potential hire fails to provide these credentials -- it's a red flag. On that same note, every contractor, from window installers to plumbers, must be licensed to contract.
Conduct your own background check
Each state's regulatory body keeps track of all complaints as well as each individual community Better Business Bureau. Make sure your contractors are square the local BBB.
Don't pay more than 10 percent up front
State laws actually prohibit contractors from accepting pre-paid fees of more than 10 percent of the estimate's price. If the contractor insists on more for tools, materials and wages, consider it another red flag.
Top 10 tips for avoiding home-improvement scams: