I Just recieved a mailer from a Real Estate Agency, I thought I would share it with you guys. Here is the article it is directed to homeowners. Hiring Contractors.... Anytime you think about home improvement, there are a number of details to be considered. There is an element of risk when hiring a contractor to perform work for you. The following are steps you take to protect yourself: 1) Check references by looking at the contractor's work yourself. 2) Ask for copies of current worker's compensation and liability insurance policies. 3) Never put more than 10% down to bind a contract. 4) Ask for copies of building, plumbing, heating, and electric permits, as required. 5) For larger jobs, list several stages in the job when payment will be made. Define what percentage of the job each represents and pay only that amount when all work associated with taht stage is successfully completed. 6) Withhold 10% at each stage, reserving those sums for a final payment. Release these funds only when the job is 100% complete. 7) If the contractor is of limited financial means, arrange to pay for significant materials(including concrete, roofing, replacement windows, and deck materials) yourself. This relieves the contractor of financial burden and protects you form a lien by the supplier if the contractor does not pay him. Note that your desire to pay for materials yourself could be embarrassing for your contractor. You might stress that you are interested in buying the contractor's trade skills, not purchasing skills.