MADISON (WKOW)--Hiring an unknown plumber, housepainter or carpet cleaner to fix a problem in your house can be a little scary, but a little homework on your part can really minimize the danger.
First rule of thumb in hiring any service professional: get references.
"If you hire someone you don't know from an ad or from a flyer you might have received, you might not know what kind of quality of work you are going to get," advises Good Housekeeping Associate Editor Amy Roberts.
Websites also offer recommendations.
For a fee, Angieslist.com has a data list of server reviews of professionals.
Servicemagic.com is free for consumers and features an extensive questionnaire to hone in one your needs.
Before you hire the person, find out if there's a minimum charge and if the price could go up from the quote.
And when possible, try to hire local.
And finally, make sure your professional carries insurance, licenses and accreditations required by your state.
Before signing, read contracts very carefully to make sure you understand the terms.
If hiring an electrician or plumber, make sure he'll provide all of the necessary parts and fixtures.
Ask an exterminator if return visits are covered in the cost-many firms offer 30 or even 90-day guarantees.
See if your housepainter can get a discount on paint.
Good painters have relationships with suppliers to get you the best rate on the best product for the job.
If you need roof work done, check if there's a warranty or guarantee.
There should be both: the manufacturer backs the materials for defects, while the work may be covered for up to 10 years by the roofer.