Angie's List: Tips on protecting yourself when hiring a bad contractor

LEWISTON, ID - No one sets out to hire a bad contractor. And yet, homeowners in the midst of remodeling or building projects do it every day.

So what can you do if a contractor takes your money and runs or just fails to show up? In Angie's List report, we outline your options.

"What clients often don't understand is that the rough skeleton, the internals of these projects, is what makes the finished product," said contractor Doug Lynch. "If it's been started by another vendor that hasn't done a good project, in the end, he doesn't want to put his name on that project as well, so that's where those challenges lie."

"When we are hiring contractors to do projects around our house a lot of times we may skip on our research," said Angie's List Owner, Angie Hicks. "Don't hire the contractor that is not licensed, don't hire the contractor that doesn't carry proper insurance because while those might seem like little shortcuts now, they could turn into big headaches down the road."

"It's not uncommon for us to get a phone call and say, "Hey can you come out and take a look at this? I'm concerned that this contractor I've hired may not be doing this correctly." Or "I'm having a poor experience," said Lynch.

Hicks says, "No one likes to admit this, but sometimes you have to break up with the contractor," said Hicks. "If you find yourself in a bad situation it's better to cut your losses. Start over with a new contractor and get it done right."

"Be transparent with that person that's coming to look at it with exactly where you stand financially; where exactly you stand from a time constraint; what your desires and needs are for the completion of the project," said Lynch.

Angie's List said don't hire a contractor based on price alone. To help protect yourself, don't pay anything until you have a contract that spells out the payment structure. And never pay the full amount up front. Tie future payments to progress on the job and hold back at least 10% until the job is complete to your satisfaction.