You’ve spent the last few weekends binge watching HGTV’s Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines and now you’re a seasoned home renovation specialist right? Well before you put on those cute safety glasses, scream “it’s demo day” and take a sledge hammer to the walls of your home, you might want to consider the help of a professional for your first big project! Renovation projects can be stressful, time consuming and expensive. You honestly never know what types of surprises might reveal themselves as you start removing wall coverings or flooring.

Here are the top 5 tips for hiring the right contractor for your job:

1. Have a plan - Knowing what you want is going to help tremendously when you start getting bids from contractors. Get online and browse sites like Pinterest to get inspiration for colors, materials and layouts for you project.

2. Ask for Referrals – Use your network of friends, family, co-workers or trusted Real Estate Professional for contractors they have used and would recommend. You will be AMAZED at how effective a simple Facebook post can be. “Hey Facebook Friends, can anyone recommend a great general contractor?” I guarantee you will get more information than you probably want. “The good, the bad and the ugly.”

3. Get multiple bids – You will want to get a minimum of three bids from three different contractors. Make sure the bids are specific and comparable, all include the same types of materials. “Comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges.” Ask your contractors what other jobs they are currently working on and ask to see their work in person, if possible. Don’t be afraid check references and negotiate price. Once you’re ready to sign a contract make sure all the terms are spelled out with a timeline, building materials and draw schedule

4. Ask about permitting- Ask your contractor about the permitting process for your area and make sure proper permits are pulled before starting any work. You may think you’re saving time and money by not having the proper permits, but if caught violating city or county ordinances you’ll be fined and all work must stop until proper permits are in place. City Inspectors will inspect all work to make sure it’s up to code. If part of your renovation included electrical and you’ve already put drywall up, be ready to rip the drywall back off the walls for the electrical inspection. Here is a resource provided by the City of Austin that outlines what types of projects require and do not require permits.

5. When to Pay – Never pay more than 10% to a contractor before the job officially starts and do not pay more than 30% as an initial draw. Payment schedule should be pre-determined and outlined in the bid you signed with the contractor. You don’t want to pay a contractor 100% of the job and then have him walk after demoing your home, leaving you with unlivable conditions and no money to finish the project. Do not make the final payment you have walked the job with your contractor, it’s 100 % complete and you have received copies of lien releases from all the subcontractors and the general contractor.