The first thing to do when hiring a local contractor is to get recommendations from friends, family, co-workers or neighbors who have worked with or know of the contractor. The homeowner should also find a professional organization that the contractor belongs to and see if he is a member in good standing. It is also a good idea to check the Better Business Bureau to find out if there are any unresolved complaints against him.
The homeowner should then draw up a list of local contractors and call them with questions. The contractors should be able to give the homeowner a list of previous clients and provide other references. The homeowner should then set up face-to-face interviews with about two or three of the contractors. It is a good idea to check the contractor's references and even visit current or previous job sites if this is feasible.
After this, the job can be sent out for bids. The contractor should be able to break down the cost of the project into materials, labor and other costs. The homeowner should be wary of a contractor whose bid is suspiciously low, as his work is possibly substandard.
When the contractor is finally chosen, a detailed contract should be drawn up with payment schedules, start and completion dates, liens and proof of liability, workmen's compensation and other details.