The best way to avoid problems in your basement finishing project is to follow these ten steps, and to cover all details in your contract.

  1. The best way to avoid problems is to follow the steps outlined in this blog series, and to cover all details in your contract.What if Problems Occur?
    In spite of all the precautions you have taken, problems will sometimes occur. If problems do occur, either during construction or afterward; contact your contractor. Usually he or she will make corrections willingly.Be sure to address all problems or complaints directly to the contractor in writing, so that you both have a record. Should the contractor refuse to make corrections, you can file a complaint in writing.

    Some Things To Consider:


    1. 1. Plan your project carefully.
    2. Shop around before hiring a contractor.
    3. Get at least three written bids on your project.
    4. When requesting bids, provide all contractors with accurate plans or drawings that will enable them to determine the scope and cost of work.
    5. Make sure the contractor is properly licensed, and check the status and disciplinary history of the license.
    6. Check out contractors with your local building department, trade associations, consumer protection agency, and the Better Business Bureau.
    7. Get references for previous projects the contractor has done, and follow up on them.
    8. Consult with more than one lending institution regarding the type of loan to obtain.
    9. Pay only 10 percent of the project price for a deposit.
    10. Make sure everything you and your contractor have agreed to is included in your contract, and don’t sign anything until you understand and agree with all terms.
    11. Ask your contractor about inconveniences that may occur, and plan accordingly.
    12. Keep a job file.
    13. Take precautions to prevent mechanic’s liens from being filed against your property and ask for lien releases from subcontractors and materials suppliers.
    14. Make frequent inspections of the work, including a final walk-through.
    15. If problems or disagreements occur, try first to negotiate with the contractor.


    1. Don’t hire an unlicensed contractor.
    2. Don’t hire a contractor without first shopping around.
    3. Don’t act as an owner/builder, unless you are very experienced in construction.
    4. Don’t sign anything until you completely understand it and agree to the terms.
    5. Don’t make agreements with subcontractors or workers without consulting the prime contractor.
    6. Don’t pay cash.
    7. Don’t make a down payment that exceeds the legal limit 10%.
    8. Don’t let your payments get ahead of the contractor’s completed work.
    9. Don’t hesitate to ask questions of the contractor.
    10. Don’t make final payment until all phases of construction have been completed according to the terms of the contract.

    Be Sure Your Contract Includes:

    The contractor’s name, address, and license number and the name and registration number of any salesperson that solicited or negotiated the contract.

    The approximate dates (not number of working days) when the work will begin and be substantially completed.

    A description of the work to be done, a description of the materials and equipment to be used or installed, and the price for the work.

    A schedule of payments showing the amount of each payment in dollars and cents.

    If the payment schedule contained in the contract provides for a down payment, it should not exceed 10 percent of the contract price (excluding finance charges).

    A description of what constitutes substantial commencement of work.

This concludes the “10 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring a Contractor” series.