If you don't ask me directly for a referral, I have a few tips regarding hiring contractors...
1) Go to the Contractor's State License Board and verify they actually have an active, current contractor's license for the specific trade you are hiring them for. You can look-up a license by company name, owner name, or license number.
2) Verify the contractor's place of business and contact information. Many very reputable contractors do work from a home office, but make sure you know how to reach them.
3) Ask the contractor for references, and actually call them!
4) If you were not referred, get more than one bid for the work. Interview a couple contractors before you choose one.
5) Make sure they bid a very specific scope of work. Look for permits, brand names, quantities, dates, etc. Also note any exclusions in the contract. FYI a written contract is required for work totalling over $500.
6) Get more than one bid for the work. Interview a couple contractors before you choose one.
7) Make sure you give them no more than 10% downpayment...make sure you do not give progress payments ahead of the work being completed. Do not give a final payment until the work is 100% complete.
8) If a permit was required for the work, make sure you obtain a copy of the "finaled" permit for your records.