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Making an improvement to your home can be one of the most rewarding experiences ever for home owners. Not only do you get the joy of improving the value of your home, but building your home exactly to your desired specifications can provide everlasting joy and excitement.

Planning the job

You should plan your project carefully from start to finish. Don't leave any detail unnoticed before you get started. Know exactly what you want your room addition or improvement to look like. Know what kind of materials you want used and what the room will be used for. You may even want to map out your design on paper so it will be simpler when it comes time to talk with your contractor. When you do talk about the project with your contractor, you need to be specific as you can about what you want. The better idea he has about what you're looking to have done the happier you'll be with the completed project and the more accurate he'll be able to be on the price of the job.

Hiring your contractor

Research your contractors. Get at least three estimates of the job from three different contractors. If you can find some contractors that your family and friends recommend to you, that is most helpful. They have been trusted by those closest to you and you can feel more secure about your choices.

Get references from the contractors you're looking at most seriously. Talk with those people honestly and openly about the services they received. Don't be afraid to ask tough questions about money and service. You want to know you're hiring the best contractor for your money.

Check the credentials of the contractor. Call the professional organizations he claims to be a member of and make sure he is in fact a member. Call your local housing authority to make sure he meets the necessary licensing and bonding requirements.

Other Tips
• Make sure the written contract is detailed. Put everything you've discussed with the contractor on paper so there's no doubt what's expected of each of you.
• Check the contractor's credentials and pertinent information. Call the phone number he gives you, drive by his office. Make sure he's legitimate.
• Make sure you have the proper authority to make the changes you're making to your home. Check with the building permit office.
• Understand everything you're signing. Take a day or two to look over the contract if you need to.
• Never pay for the job up front. Consider paying half or a third now and then the remainder at the completion of the job.