Possibly the most important ingredientin any home improvement project isthe person who does the work. Diligencein selecting a contractor is essential to asatisfactory job. Start by locating at leastthree estimates. Always aska contractor what other projects he'sworking on and, if possible, go take alook. Get references from customers whohave completed improvements within thepast few yearsâ€”sometimes problems taketime to surface. Have everything in writing,including a completion date, andresist any request for more than half thecost estimate upfront. To be sure there areno structural problems you should beaware of before you start, have a professionalinspection done on any area youplan to improve.