How to ensure a problem-free remodel

Dos and don'ts of hiring a contractor, agreeing on price

Q: Everyone complains about builders before or after the building process. My concern is that builders don't deliver what is promised, or they trick me in the paperwork I'm supposed to sign. How can I protect myself from fraud? Are there laws protecting me against these giants? --Ron Z., via e-mail A: First of all, I feel you're being too broad in your statements. Most contractors are small-business owners, not the giants you allude to, and while there are certainly dishonest and unscrupulous contractors -- as there are practitioners of any trade -- after 27 years as a contractor myself, I know of very few who "trick" clients into signing paperwork. Part of the problem comes from the fact that many construction projects are somewhat subjective in nature. A person may want to have a bathroom remodeled, and mentally he or she has an image of what the remodeling should accomplish. However, he or she may be unwilling or unable to accurately convey those expectations to the cont...