The following information is from BIAWC, the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County, the professional association for ethical and skilled contractors. Their organization provides advice for homeowners looking for remodeling as well as new construction contractors.
Tips for hiring a contractor:
1. Determine what you want done, and think about how to explain your project clearly so that a contractor will understand – communication is important!
2. If you do not know what contractor you want to hire, interview several and ask for written bids. Make sure that each contractor can bid on exactly the same scope of work, or comparing the bids will be meaningless.
3. Check that the contractor is registered: www.ini.wa.gov; also, look for the contractor registration numbers in advertisements, business cards and the Yellow Pages.
4. Ask for references and check them.
5. Ask for the Notice to Customer (disclosure statement) before work begins.
6. Learn about permits. You can have your contractor take care of this, but it is helpful for your own information if you know what permits will be required, their cost and what impacts they have on your project. Permits ensure that the work will be done to Building Code Specifications.
This information, and much, much more (including listing contractors who are members of the BIAWC) are on the website; www.biawc.com.