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A home renovation project can be a taxing experience, but there are ways to prepare for it and reduce the chaos. The following tips will help you find a home remodeling contractor who's up to the challenge.

Choosing the right contractor is the most important step in preparing for a major or minor renovation. Ask friends, relatives and business associates for recommendations. Be sure to obtain written estimates from at least three contractors. The estimates should all be based on the same building specifications, quality of materials, labor and time needed to complete the project. Be certain you understand the reasons for any variations in the prices. Don't automatically choose the lowest estimate.

Ask for a list of previous clients for reference and call the clients to ask about the quality of work performed. If possible, go look at the contractor's completed work. Also, contact your local Better Business Bureau to determine how long the company has been in business and if any complaints have been filed against it.

In addition, determine which agency in your area grants licenses to contractors and check with that office to be sure the contractor is licensed and/or bonded, if required. Remember, a bond may protect you against substandard work that doesn't comply with building codes; however, it may not protect you if the contractor does not complete the job.

Another important matter to consider is insurance coverage. Ask the contractor if the company is insured against claims covering worker's compensation, property damage, and personal liability in case of an accident. Then call to verify the contractor's insurance coverage after obtaining the name of the carrier and agency.

For a large remodeling job that involves several subcontractors and a large financial commitment, you should protect yourself from liens against your home in the event the primary contractor doesn't pay the subcontractor or the suppliers. You may do this by adding a release-of-lien clause to the contract or by placing your payments in an escrow account until the work is completed.

Before you sign a final contract, be sure it specifies the schedule for releasing payments to the contractor and that all oral promises are also included in the written contract. Be suspicious if you're asked to pay for the entire job in advance. The down payment should be no more than one-third of the total contract price. And don't sign a completion certificate for the job until after it has been inspected by local building authorities and properly completed according to the contract.