LM Otero, Associated Press

As remodeling begins to rise among U.S. homeowners, many are not taking steps to protect themselves, according to an article on Angie's list, a website where users can find reviews on contractors. A survey from the ratings site shows that 10 percent of homeowners hired a contractor wihtout a contract in place, while 30 percent had a contract but didn't read it thoroughly. “Your house is your biggest asset. It’s your home. You should do as much as you can to avoid a hiring disaster,” Hicks said. “It’s not that hard to find great contractors, but it does require some advance work.” A study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University shows an expected 5.6 increase in home remodeling in 2012. The following items are tips on how to get the most from your remodeling from Angie's List.

Clearly define your project
LM Otero, Associated Press

Getting ideas down on paper will give potential contractors a better idea of the job they will be doing.

Reading remodeling magazines or websites will help give you ideas before you talk to contractors.

Management issues

Hiring out a general contractor to manage different specialists can help with larger projects.

Structural issues

A job that changes the structure of your home, such as eliminating walls and adding rooms, should involve an architect or structural engineer.

Ask around

Ask friends and neighbors for references of good, local contrators. Some websites have databases of reviews of local contractors as well, but don't base a decision on one conversation.

Check references
Tom Smart, Deseret News

Check a contractor's work by speaking with customers who were pleased with jobs they've had done. Also check with subcontractors to see if they enjoyed working with them.

Get estimates
Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

It is a good idea to get at least three written estimates. Documentation can protect you if things go wrong.

Where can I reach you?

Make sure you have legitamate contact information for a contractor. Avoid contractors who come to your door and can't provide proof of qualifications.

License for hire
Ravell Call, Deseret News

Verify a contractors license with appropriate local government agencies. Some local governements have no licensing requirements, which can make this difficult.

Insurance and bonding
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Check to make sure the contractor has current bonding and liability insurance. Good contracts come with proof.

Budget and payment options

Pre-payments typically range between 10 and 15 percent of the total value of the project. Make sure you have enough to cover the pre-payment.

Paying with credit card will give you the option of recourse if something goes wrong.

The contract sign

Make sure you understand the contract thoroughly before signing. The contract should include a lien waver that covers payments to all subcontractors who worked on the project.

Never sign a blank contract.

Punch list

This is a list of things the contrators will need to be completed at the end of the job.

A good rule of thumb is to find the cost of the list items, double it and withold the amount until the job is done.

Prepare your family for the stress

The remodeling could disrupt your family's routine.

Consider the effects of temporarily losing a kitchen or bathroom and how that will burden the family.