How to protect yourself when hiring a contractor

Related: How to protect yourself when hiring a contractor »

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The number of complaints against contractors is on the rise, according to the Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board.

“We have had a spike in the number of complaints over the last 30 days,” said George Whalen, the board’s executive director. “That’s typical for this time of year.”

Whalen said getting a contract in writing is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself if you’re hiring a contractor.

“You have to be specific and clear and you really have to articulate in that contract exactly what you’re looking for,” he explained.

Related: RI officials cracking down on unlicensed contractors »

Things to include in a contract:

  • A list of materials that will be used, including the quality, quantity and brand name
  • Start and completion dates
  • Total cost
  • Payment schedule

You should also verify that your contractor is registered and his or her insurance is up to date.

Click here to check a contractor’s registration »

Before you make your final payment, ask your contractor for a lien release.

“Lien releases are very important. People don’t realize it,” Whalen said. “I could go out as a contractor, purchase lumber at a local big box store, and not pay that lumber yard. Lo and behold, after I complete work for you, the lumber yard is going to put a lien on your property, so lien releases are very important.”