We’ve all heard it– horror stories about contractors who cost huge amounts of money, who ruin or abandon projects, who end up being frauds. So how do you insure that the builder you hire doesn’t take advantage of you and your money? For one thing, don’t sign a contract until you have every detail written out– from features to finishes to fixtures. That means there shouldn’t be hidden costs associated with your project unless you decide to change things. Also, don’t cross your fingers that the cheapest contractor will deliver unless you’ve researched him. Tools like the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, and even community banks can give you information on a builder’s credentials. If friends and neighbors have gone through similar projects, seek out their advice and experiences. Finally, and most importantly, ask for references and call every single one! It may take a lot of work and dedication, but you’re researching something that costs a lot of money, and without the research, your dream project could become a nightmare.