What you should know before hiring a contractor

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Looking to spruce up your home?

Start by watching this video, where real estate and construction attorney Ray Robinson walks you through what to look for in a contract and what to keep your eyes on as the project moves forward.

[READ: Conversation about contractor concerns with Ray Robinson

Referrals from friends and family are great, but make sure you do your own background check. That includes:


Other departments to check are:

Also, don't ask the contractor for his references. Instead, ask for the names and numbers for the last three to five jobs he's worked on.


Solicit bids from several contractors. It's important to compare costs before making a commitment to any home improvement project.  It pays to look beyond the lowest bid when looking for a contractor, no matter the size of the project.

Know how to identify traits of con artists. Homeowners can eliminate less-than-reputable workers by being familiar with common traits of rip-off artists:

  • Door-to-door solicitation – Be suspicious of contractors who show up at your door and tell you they have material left over from a previous job at your neighbor's house. This is a common ploy of fly-by-night workers who are not looking to satisfy customers. They'll often perform the job with poor quality and homeowners will not be able to contact the workers again following the poor work.
  • Decision Pressure – A reputable company will give you the time that you need in considering your contracting options and will not pressure you into doing work right away. Consumers will want to check references, check to see if any registrations are needed and if they are valid, compare estimates and read business reviews from the Better Business Bureau to make sure the company is reputable.
  • Paying for the job upfront – It's a red flag if the business asks you to pay for the entire job upfront or strictly asks for cash only.  Paying with a credit card can provide proof of payment.  Funding a project with cash will leave no paper trail and homeowners shouldn't pay anything until at least after the first day of work is completed and only then pay up to 1/3 of the total cost.

Additional tips:

Another option is to run a court case search to see if there are any pending litigations:

I know it seems tedious, perhaps overwhelming, but doing the research on the front end will certainly help.

Click here to see more from the BBB on researching contractors.

READ: Dangers of Hiring an Unlicensed Person

FTC: Hiring a Contractor