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DON'T HIRE CONTRACTORS WITHOUT ENSURING THEY HAVE LICENSE AND LIABILITY INSURANCE

There are safeguards to consider when hiring a contractor to complete a job, says Ken Willis, president of the Ontario-based League of California Homeowners.

First of all, make sure they are licensed."You can't get a contractor license without getting bonded, and without passing a written exam to ensure you have the basic knowledge," Willis says.

Make sure the company has general liability insurance to cover any job-related accidents on your property, as well as workers' compensation if your project requires more than one worker.

"It's not uncommon a worker may fall off a roof," Willis said. "Homeowners should be aware that construction work represents the highest accident rate in the nation, as far as workers are concerned. Assume there is every likelihood that there will be a problem."

Finally, don't let a contractor convince you that your homeowner's insurance will cover liability problems on your property.

"Why would you want to do the paperwork? Besides, you will automatically lose your coverage when it comes up for renewal," Willis said.