Your best protection to avoid home improvement problems is, wherever possible, by being actively involved in every step of your project, from the initial planning to the finished product, and by knowing and asserting your legal rights.

Know what you want and can afford. Have a good idea of the basic design of your project, the materials required and the total costs of your home improvements.

Communicate your plans clearly. Be specific in explaining to the contractor what it is you want. Work with the contractor to provide clear, detailed specifications and include them in your written contract.

Create a workable budget that is realistic and affordable before you accept any bids from contractors or sign a home improvement agreement.

Seek advice from professionals familiar with your remodeling or home improvement job. Check with trade associations and with your local building inspectors regarding building codes and standards before you sign a contract or begin work on your house.